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How to open a rose: its genome reveals traits of smell and color

The scent of rose fades over time, and for hundreds of years.

For many centuries, generations of reproduction in search of flowers and tall petals in shades of almost every color have been wet from the most beautiful scents of scented gardens all over the world.

French researchers have now specifically discovered which genes make the rose scent so sweet, and where it should be tampered with in the genome to enhance its distinctive aroma.

Although the genome of roses has been set before, the newly published version is more complete, indicating which genes tend to travel together – smell and colors, for example – and which genes are responsible for continuous flowering, among other features. .

“I think it’s a big improvement in the current rosette sequence,” said Rob Martinsen, a biologist and professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island.

“Many of these genes were known before, but it’s a very nice way to collect them all and show their history. And Dr. Martinsen, who was not involved in the new study, said I think it will be very important for reproduction.”

The new sequence is one of the most complete maps of plant genetics. By specifying genes with great precision, he said, it would be beneficial to breed other plant species other than roses.

Now, to develop a new type of rose, breeders usually make thousands of mixed offspring, looking for a mixture of the traits they want. After that, they must identify and identify the offspring that has the desired attribute. It is a process that can take up to 10 years and requires a lot of greenhouse space and land, as well as water, ”said Mohammed bin Dahmane, a senior author at the Research and Research Department of the Graduate School of Lyon, France.

He said that through data from the more detailed sequence of the rose genome, this process should be significantly shortened, reducing the cost and energy consumption needed to introduce new species.

Because of centuries of reproduction, most modern rose varieties contain four copies of genes, two from each parent – rather than the more typical varieties of each parent. This complexity makes the genome difficult and serial. To circumvent this, researchers created a rose with just one copy of each gene.

Dr. Bendahmane and his colleagues and partners began with a variety of roses called Rosa chinensis “Old Blush”, which originated in China and was introduced to Europe in 18th century. European rose breeders crossbreed their plants with some of China to take advantage of the signature, aroma, and color of persistent Asian plants.

Researchers have also sequenced the genomes of ancestral and modern hybrid roses to understand the composition and structure of modern roses and the origin of important traits.

“Now we can combine the information from genetics that has been done before, along with our data from the genome, including genetic diversity and structure, to discover which of the ancestral roses are involved in any trait,” said Dr. Bendahmane.

Todd Muckler, principal investigator at the Donald Danforth Center for Plant Science in St. Louis, who was not involved in the new research, said modern gene sequencing technology also allowed the team to develop a more detailed genetic map.

“If you only have 80 percent of the genome, you are wondering what 20 percent you are missing,” he said, noting that earlier sequences have often been absent from genes associated with the disease. “A big deal is complete.”

Dr. Muckler, whose team serialized 400 plant genomes last year, said the paper represented a new “democratization” of plant research. He said that a decade ago, the cost of such a study was $ 20 million or more, and it was only possible for high-value and high-yield crops like wheat, corn and soybeans. Now, he said, this detailed sequence is becoming much cheaper and widely available.

Editing crop genes like roses – to reduce the use of pesticides and water, for example – would become more realistic now that there was a good roadmap for those genes, he said.

“The big challenge is that you need to know what needs to be modified,” said Dr. Muckler. “You can’t start modification randomly. You have to know what the target is. The only way to know that is to get the genome sequencing.”

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