A set of tools that use living organisms or parts of organisms to modify or make a product to improve crop plants, trees, animals and to develop microorganisms for specific uses constitute the term biotechnology. Particularly, agricultural biotechnology is the term used in crop and livestock improvement through biotechnological tools that comprises plant tissue culture and micro-propagation techniques, plant genetic engineering, molecular breeding or marker assisted breeding along with conventional plant breeding techniques. So plant biotechnology offers a number of non-conventional approaches for genetic enhancement of conventional crop improvement methods. Clonally propagation of selected plant species in vitro is one of the most promising examples of commercial application of plant biotechnology. Recent aspect of plant biotechnology i.e. plant genetic engineering is opened an avenue for floriculture gene pool expansion by promoting the generation of improved new commercial varieties with desired traits.
Different Biotechnological Approaches
Global floriculture industry is primarily dominated by ornamentals such as cutflowers, potted and indoor plants, bedding plants, ornamental grasses, lawn or turf grasses, trees and shrubs. Biotechnological approaches in floriculture mainly focused on micro-propagation (large-scale plant multiplication of elite superior varieties), haploid breeding and polyploidy breeding for developing true to type hybrid, pure homozygous individuals, disease-free haploid plants resulted in dwarfed ornamentals such as the Pelargonium variety “Kleine Liebling” “Sonia” the rose hybrid. Genetic modification by means of plant genetic engineering approaches has made remarkable research efforts in ornamental horticulture for improved varietal development, especially for flowering ornamentals. By using conventional approaches development of improved new varieties through hybridization or mutagenesis is very difficult, lengthy, or improbable if varieties are completely sterile, such as orchids. Through biotechnological approaches such as transgenic technology is the possible alternative way for variety improvement and also shortens the duration of variety development in an industry where phenotypic novelty, such as flower color, is an attractive marketing factor. Different traits of ornamental plants have already been modified including flower color, flower shape, fragrance, flowering time, plant architecture, postharvest life and biotic and abiotic stress resistance. More than 50 ornamental plants are now being transformed using Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and particle bombardment techniques (Chandler and Sanchez, 2012).
Major Genetically Modified Ornamentals Dominated Floriculture World
Blue Roses: The most well known transgenic today is the blue rose which contains three genes: a synthetic RNA interference gene to shut off the DFR gene, a delphinidin gene from blue pansy, and another DFR gene for producing delphinidin. Researchers in Suntory released the blue rose “APPLAUSE” in Tokyo, Japan in 2009 and later introduced it in North America in year 2011.
GM Carnation (Moon):- Genetically modified carnation “Moon” series produced and commercialized on a significant scale by Suntory Limited and Florigene Pty Ltd and available in Australia, European Union, Japan and USA. Carnations with longer vase life have also been produced, but were not commercialized yet. Recently, four new “Moon” series carnation namely Moonpearl (lavender), Moonique (purple), Moonberry (light purple) and Moonvelvet (dark purple) was approved for commercial use in Malaysia.
Chrysanthemum: Chrysanthemum is one of the most studied and important ornamental plants in the world. Using genetic engineering the flower color modifications, biotic (insect resistance), abiotic stress resistance, pollination control and altered plant architectures was achieved in chrysanthemum. But there are no GM chrysanthemums commercially available yet. Like rose and carnation, molecular breeding for the blue chrysanthemum is on-going.
Petunia: GM Petunia-CHS, an event with an altered flower color was developed by Beijing University and commercially available. Researchers also focusing on abiotic stress resistance, specifically frost tolerance in petunia.
Conventional breeding approaches along with biotechnological tools can improve the floriculture world. So scientist/researchers across globe in ornamental horticulture should take advantages of biotechnological technologies with advance study of science of omics to finally promote the development of floriculture research and industry in near future with improved traits.
About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently working as a Post Doctoral Research Associate at National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi. I did my M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan-173230, Himachal Pradesh, India