Friday 24 May 2019

Trinity researchers take step towards 'flower within flower'

Photo issued by Trinity College Dublin of a camellia
Photo issued by Trinity College Dublin of a camellia

Lyndsey Telford

A SCIENTIFIC breakthrough in flower power could result in farmers getting more bang for their buck from crops, experts have claimed.

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin are making "significant advances" on the study of a special gene that allows a flower to grow within a flower.

Associate professor at the university's Smurfit Institute of Genetics Frank Wellmer said understanding of the Agamous gene had been "largely elusive" until now - even though it was identified more than 20 years ago.

"Through our work, this knowledge gap is beginning to close and we have now a much better view of the processes underlying flower development and reproduction," Prof Wellmer said.

"I believe our study is a good example of what basic research can deliver and why such research should be supported even without an immediate economic impact."

Scientists Diarmuid O'Maoileidigh and Samuel Wuest investigated the function of the Agamous gene, which controls the formation of the reproductive organs of a flower - the stamens and carpels.

Mutations in the gene lead to a complete loss of these organs and to the appearance of double flowers.

These can be found in many plant cultivars used in horticulture, such as roses or camellias, and the scientists believe the information may be used to generate crops with higher yields or improved traits.

Their study - Science Foundation Ireland - has been published in international journal Plant Cell.

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