Flash breeding around the corner for roses?

This 2014 paper is ancient news in the world of genetics but news to me none-the-less. These folks took a couple of genes from arabidopsis, the white rat of plant research, and injected them into apple seedling cotyledons:

" When apple cotyledons were inoculated with ALSV-AtFT/MdTFL1 immediately after germination, more than 90% of infected seedlings started
flowering within 1.5–3 months, and almost all early-flowering seedlings continuously produced flower buds on the lateral and axillary shoots. Cross-pollination between early-flowering apple plants produced fruits with seeds, indicating that ALSV-AtFT/MdTFL1 inoculation successfully
reduced the time required for completion of the apple life cycle to 1 year or less. Apple latent spherical virus was not transmitted via seeds to successive progenies in most cases, and thus, this method will serve as a new breeding technique that does not pass genetic modification to the
next generation."

So is does anyone know if this is being/has been done with roses yet?

This is amazing Don!! Wow, this could be super useful in many slow to mature perennial crops. I’ve sat in presentations where people used transgenic apples to get early flowering and then they just select the offspring that don’t have the transgene to identify possible plants that could be commercialized after they test for those that not only not have the transgene, but also contain markers for other traditional genes of interest such as multiple disease resistance genes combined.

I wonder if they can get beyond using cotyledons and can maybe use plantlets in tissue culture of any desired cultivar that could be tender enough to infect with the virus?? This system sounds like it could be really straightforward to generate a whole bunch of parents that bloom fast and then their offspring would be free of virus. I wonder what vectors could spread the virus perhaps allowing the virus out of a contained lab or greenhouse…

They have upped their game.


The protocol here uses the old school shotgun technique and they did apparently transform true leaves. Then they neutralized the virus with heat after the transformation, claiming it results in pathogenically benign breeder. No mention of commercialization but it must be in the works given how far along they are to expose it like this.

It is interesting to me that they have targeted shikonin production. This is a naphthoquinone that has medicinal properties and a long history of use in Asian folk medicine which translates to a big, big market. Back in 1983 (gasp) I attended a biotech conference where Fraley and Rogers gave a talk on their then brand new A. tumefaciens vector. The next speaker after them was an R&D VP at a Japanese pharma giant who showed us a cosmetic pomade produced from cultured cells that had been transformed to produce shikonin (“for my personal use only”). Regulation was a big concern even then.

That presentation was remarkable in another respect, at least to me. All the other (western) presenters credited their colleagues and lab rats in the customary finale slide. The Japanese executive put up a portrait of the company president to whom he expressed gratitude for the privilege of conducting the research project.

I’ve bought Japanese vehicles ever since.