(Mirror Daily, United States) – Both flower breeders and researchers have been on the quest for the true blue chrysanthemum. Given the difficulty to find or to produce flowers of such a color, a team of Japanese scientists have decided to genetically engineer it.
Until recently, the color blue was almost impossible to obtain in chrysanthemums, since artificially introduced genes did not interact well with the flower’s genetic material. During previous attempts, the flower used to shut the genes off and treat them as an alien mechanism. In other instances, they managed to obtain violet flowers instead of blue.
How did they manage to turn a chrysanthemum blue?
Then, they decided to try a different method. Researchers collected genes from two flowers with a natural blue color, namely Canterbury bells and butterfly peas. They combined their genetic material and introduced it into chrysanthemums. These genes affected the latter’s natural pigment, and the result was delphinidin. This is a molecule also present in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
As an explanation, researchers said delphinidin interacted with the colorless molecules found in chrysanthemums. This chemical reaction lead to the flower’s petals turning into a true blue. They are pleased that the process was actually quite simple. Also, they are optimistic that the same technique might be applied for other flowers as well. The results are published in the journal Science Advances.
The flowers are iconic for Japan
Chrysanthemums hold a lot of importance in Japan, being one of the most important flowers, together with the cherry blossom. The flower is a symbol of the country, and its blossom is depicted on the imperial crest. Also, the Japanese monarchy is called the Chrysanthemum Throne. Many Japanese artists use the flower as a motif in their creations, but you can see it almost everywhere. It appears as a seal on Japanese passports, and is also placed on the 50-yen coin.
Image Source: Pixabay
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