Color changing flowers – from white to red in a day!

These color changing flowers change color to suit your mood.

Most flower color is the result of anthocyanins, small molecules naturally produced in large quantities by a biosynthetic pathway. In white flowers, this pathway is often broken – an enzyme doesn’t work as expected and the flower cannot produce anthocyanins. If we know what enzyme isn’t working, we can use biotechnology to fix the broken pathway by expressing the enzyme.

Each section of the flower has a specific set of instructions in its DNA on which genes to use. We can use these instructions to re-introduce the enzyme in a pretty pattern – across the whole flower, in a star shape, around the edge of the flower, and more. We can also express genes under certain conditions in what is known as ‘regulated gene expression’. One example is temperature: at low temperatures, the enzyme is not expressed; at high temperatures, it is.

We have given the plant the following set of instructions: If a small molecule is present, fix the pathway. With these instructions in place, you can change the flower color according to your mood! Feel like having red flowers? Water the plant with the small molecule & in 24 hours your flowers will be red. Want white flowers again? Just use regular water.

Petunias are a garden favorite – we buy 11 million of them each year. They are a laboratory favorite too! They’re easy for scientists to work with and have been studied for decades. As plant scientists fascinated with color, petunias are the perfect choice to build a whole new garden full of new and engaging experiences. It’s consumer biotechnology – applied biology for fun and beauty.   

Click here to learn about the petunia that continuously changes color!

And this is just the beginning – imagine petunias that are purple on the kitchen table, and pink on the windowsill. Or being able to change the color of a flower depending on your mood. What will your garden look like? Join us in building this beautiful new garden – click here to sign up for our newsletter, or find us on Facebook or Twitter .

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  1. Pingback: FoPD-USA 2015 CONTEST WINNERS | Plant Science Today

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