Crop Biotech Update

Blue Roses Coming Soon in Gardens

October 17, 2018

Blue roses do not exist naturally, so florists put cut roses in dye to achieve blue-hued flowers. Thanks to modern biotechnology, blue roses can now be attained through the help of pigment-producing bacteria.

Researchers have found a way to express pigment-producing enzymes from bacteria in the petals of a white rose, producing roses with blue tint. The researchers chose two bacterial enzymes that together can convert L-glutamine, a common constituent of rose petals, into the blue pigment indigoidine. The team engineered a strain of Agrobacterium tumefaciens that contains the two pigment-producing genes, which originate from a different species of bacteria.

When the researchers injected the engineered bacteria into a white rose petal, the bacteria transferred the pigment-producing genes to the rose genome, and a blue color spread from the injection site. The color was short-lived and spotty, but the team states that the rose produced in this study is the world's first engineered blue rose.

For more details, read the news article from the American Chemical Society.