‘Old Blush’ genes hold secrets to biochemistry of scent and long-lived blooms
There’s new hope for making modern roses smell sweeter than the florist paper they’re wrapped in.
By decoding the genetics of an heirloom variety, a fragrant pink China rose called “Old Blush,” an international team of researchers has uncovered some new targets to tweak. That roster of genes plus an analysis of scent revealed at least 22 previously uncharacterized biochemical steps the plants can use to make terpene compounds, which help give roses their perfume, researchers report April 30 in Nature Genetics.
Modern roses have had a crazy history of blending genes from eight to 20 species, so decoding the DNA hodgepodge has been difficult. Rose breeders have opted for “showy plants,” says molecular geneticist Mohammed Bendahmane of École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France. In the process, fragrances dwindled, and efforts to build them back