Celery Gene Makes Roses Heartier

Feb 14, 2011

Credit Randy Son Of Robert, Flickr Creative Commons

Scientists from N-C State are trying to engineer a better rose. But they won't be ready for this Valentine's Day.

NC-State horticulture researcher John Williamson can't tell you what the problem with roses is...

" I can tell you what my wife thinks the problem with roses is, is I buy them for her, I bring them home and two days later, they're dead or dying."

But Williamson and a group of horticulture researchers at State have identified a gene from celery that would make roses last longer in the vase.

"We discovered that there was a specific carbohydrate called a sugar alcohol, called mannitol that celery makes. And this particular sugar alcohol protects the plant from all kinds of stresses."

The group inserted the mannitol-making gene into roses. Williamson says its still under testing... and could take as long as a decade before a dozen roses with celery genes become Valentine's gifts.