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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Discover How Petunias Know When to Smell Good

July 1, 2015

All creatures wrestle with proper timing, including humans and plants. University of Washington (UW) researchers recently discovered that this struggle even extends to the release of fragrant scent of garden flowers.

The UW research team has identified a key mechanism that plants use to decide when to release their floral scents to attract pollinators. Led by Takato Imaizumi, they studied the common garden petunia and discovered LHY, a major gene that controls the time when petunia releases its fragrance. The gene is found in many plant species and is a key component of the plant circadian clock.

Imaizumi's team also discovered how LHY represses floral scent production. They are now testing if pollinators prefer between normal garden petunias or petunias with altered LHY activity. In time, these experiments may pave the way for scientists to improve the pollination efficiency of other plants, including important crop species.

For more, read the news release at the UW website.