Heaven scent: Finding may help restore fragrance to roses

July 3, 2015 byMalcolm Ritter
Heaven scent: Finding may help restore fragrance to roses
This Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 file photo shows roses during preparations for the Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. A study of roses that have a strong scent revealed a previously unknown chemical process in their petals that is key to their fragrance. Experts said the finding might let scientists restore a pleasing scent to rose varieties that have lost it because of breeding for traits like color or longevity. Results are reported in a study released Thursday, July 2, 2015 by the journal Science. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. In fact, many kinds of roses today have little fragrance. But a new discovery might change that.

A study of roses that do have a strong scent revealed a previously unknown chemical process in their petals. It's key to their alluring odor.

Experts said the finding might let scientists restore a pleasing scent to varieties that have lost it because of breeding for traits like color or longevity.

French scientists identified a gene that's far more active in a heavily scented kind of rose than in a type with little odor. This gene, which produces an enzyme, revealed the odor-producing process.

Results are reported in a study released Thursday by the journal Science.

Dr. Sylvie Baudino explains the research involved in finding the enzyme responsible for scent in roses. The rose footage is from two gardens in Washington, D.C. Credit: AAAS/ Carla Schaffer
Extraction of rose petals. Credit: A. Cheziere / Université Jean Monnet

Explore further: Video: Why do roses smell so sweet?

More information: "Biosynthesis of monoterpene scent compounds in roses," www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/ … 1126/science.aab0696

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