GM blue roses to hit JAPANESE shelves next month

GM blue roses to hit JAPANESE shelves next month


Crop Biotech Update

Japan’s Suntory Ltd announced that it will start selling the world’s first blue rose next month. The product of more than two decades of research, the blue rose will be on sale for 2,000-3,000 yen (about USD 22-33) per stem.

Growers have been breeding roses for thousands of years, creating different varieties that produce flowers of different sizes and colors. But because roses naturally lack blue pigmentation, elusive blue roses became synonymous with the impossible. Horticulturists have long referred to the blue rose as the holy grail of the plant breeding world. During the Victorian times, blue roses signified the attempt to attain the impossible. Even Rudyard Kipling made a poem about the impossible quest for blue roses.

With the Australian company Florigene, Suntory made the impossible possible by expressing the flavonoid 3’5’-hydroxylase and anthocyanin 5-acyltransferase genes from pansies and petunias in roses. The genes enc ode enzymes that play important roles in the synthesis of delphinidin, the elusive blue pigment.

Suntory in a press release said that the new variety, named Applause, is “recommended as a luxurious gift for special occasions such as wedding anniversaries and birthdays.”


It should be interesting to see if pollen can be extracted and what the results might be. But since I know absolutely nothing about gene splicing and its effects (or not) on the reproductive cells of a rose, that may be impossible.

For our purposes, isn’t genetic engineering cheating a little?

Jeff, engineered genes are inherited exactly like any other gene, and shouldn’t have any effect on fertility. However, you can be sure that Suntory has patented the transformation, so any breeding with it would be illegal (though that will probably go unenforced unless you try and market it). They could also have added other genes to make the roses sterile in order to protect their investment in developing the technology, but that actually isn’t too common.


It should be interesting to see more details about this rose. I can’t wait to see a few up close and without the aide of a camera lens.

  1. its lavender, much like Sterling Silver and Blue Skies. In other words, nothing special. Calling it “blue” doesn’t make it blue.

  2. I don’t ever want one here on my farm because I don’t want to end up being a Percy Schmeiser. That is a very real possibility assuming (and I am sure it will be the case) that they have patented the genes. No thanks. Keep it away from me.