Engineering blue-hued flowers

Jun 27, 2011

Flower color in plants is determined by pigments such as aurones, anthocyanins, and carotenoids. Research has found that the ultimate color displayed is dependent not only on the pigment present, but also on other factors, including cell shape, presence of metal ions, and pH, among others. Information about the role of pH in creating color has allowed plant geneticists to engineer new hues, adding to the beauty and diversity of ornamental plants.

New experiments using Anthurium andraeanum, a tropical ornamental species with a limited range of spathe colors varying from orange to red, were designed to identify the most likely candidates for generating blues in the species. The study investigated the relationship between epidermal vacuolar pH and a number of factors including cultivar, spathe color, developmental stage of the spathe, location of within the spathe, differences between the abaxial and adaxial surfaces, and postharvest changes. The researchers noted that their long-term objective was to develop a methodology for engineering blue-colored spathes in anthurium.

"Most studies on pH have been carried out in floral tissues and limited information currently exists for leaf tissues with the exception of bracts of Poinsettia. This is the first study of pH in anthurium spathe, a modified leaf", said Pathmanathan Umaharan, corresponding author of the study. Umaharan and colleagues Omaira Avila-Rostant and Adrian M. Lennon from the Department of Life Sciences at The University of the West Indies conducted six experiments involving 23 of anthurium. The study was published in HortScience.

Spathe color was associated with vacuolar pH with the whites and greens having the highest pH followed by corals, pinks, reds, and oranges. In general, there was a correlation between the lightness of the pigmentation and the pH values, with the lighter colors having showing pH values. The values were within the pH range suitable for producing blue hues, as previously identified in three unique plant species.

The results also showed significant differences among cultivars within color categories, varying between1% to 8%, depending on the color group. "This data indicates the importance of screening a large number of cultivars within each color group to identify those with high pH for use in bioengineering of blue flowers", explained Umaharan.

The researchers said the study suggests that corals, which have the highest pH among the color groups, may be best suited as targets for transformation because they contain lower levels of pH-reducing .

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

More information: hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/45/12/1768

Provided by American Society for Horticultural Science

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Yes, we have no blue bananas

Oct 19, 2006

German scientists say color perception depends not only on an object's pigmentation but also on our knowledge of what the object should look like.

White eyes, foot-wide flowers, maroon plants

Jul 23, 2010

With a little cross-breeding and some determination, Dr. Dariusz Malinowski, Texas AgriLife Research plant physiologist and forage agronomist in Vernon, is trying to add more colors to the world of hibiscuses.

The power of purple

Feb 09, 2011

Kansas State University isn't the only place where the color purple rules. In the plant world, many plants are defined by their purple color.

Wildflower colors tell butterflies how to do their jobs

Jan 09, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The recipe for making one species into two requires time and some kind of separation, like being on different islands or something else that discourages gene flow between the two budding species.

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

12 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...