A truly blue rose has been the ultimate aspirations of rose breeders since 1840, when the horticultural societies of Britain and Belgium offered a prize of 500,000 francs to the first person to produce a genuinely blue rose. The feat wasn’t easy, but the company that created them is hoping it will be worth it.
It took 14 years of study with Japanese and Australian researchers to create the world’s first blue rose. Sometimes, it seems, Mother Nature just doesn’t want to budge. It was finally accomplished by implanting the gene that leads to the synthesis of the blue pigment Delphinidin in pansies. This pigment does not exist naturally in roses. The rose is the first in the world with the genetic potential to produce 'true blue' roses, spanning the spectrum from baby blue to navy.
The Suntory rose is also historic for another reason. It is potentially the first commercial plant in the world to exploit RNA interference (RNAi) technology. RNAi technology is used for research and development across the biological and medical sciences. The Japanese company that created the genetically modified blue roses, will start selling them commercially next year. Suntory Ltd, also a major whisky distiller, hopes to sell several hundred thousand blue roses a year, company spokesman Kazumasa Nishizaki said.
"As its price may be a bit high, we are targeting demand for luxurious cut flowers, such as for gifts,'' he said.
The exact price and commercial name for the blue rose, which was first created in 2004, have still not been decided. The company is now growing the rose experimentally in Australia and the United States to get approval for sales.
If all goes well, next year’s Valentine lovers will have a new, rarer, option for those who feel red is getting a little predictable.
Posted by Rebecca Sato.