Missing enzyme to blame for scentless roses | Science News

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Missing enzyme to blame for scentless roses

Discovery could help solve thorny problem for flower growers

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2:00pm, July 2, 2015
rose

FLAUNTING FRAGRANCE   By comparing a sweet-smelling Papa Meilland rose (shown) with a bland bloom, researchers discovered a surprising enzyme critical to roses' aroma-making.

Stopping to smell the roses might be a letdown — and now researchers know why.

The sweet-smelling flowers craft their scent using a surprising enzyme, previously thought to help prune genetic errors, researchers report July 3 in Science. That enzyme — and potent aroma — is missing in many roses bred for dazzling color and long-lasting blooms. The finding could help scientists solve the thorny problem of scentless blossoms.

“Usually, the first thing that people do when they get [a rose] is smell it,” says plant biochemist Philippe Hugueney of INRA, the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Colmar, France.  “Most of the time it’s not scented and it’s very disappointing,” he says.

When roses smell like roses, they do so by emitting a distinct assortment of monoterpene alcohols, he says. These 10-carbon molecules,

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