A brand new paper regarding breeding for blue in roses.
Rosa hybrida has colorful flowers and a high ornamental value. Although rose flowers have a wide range of colors, no blue roses exist in nature, and the reason for this is unclear. In this study, the blue-purple petals (BF) of the rose variety ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and the white petals (WF) of its natural mutant were subjected to transcriptome analysis to find genes related to the formation of the blue-purple color. The results showed that the anthocyanin content was significantly higher in BF than in WF. A total of 1077 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were detected by RNA-Seq analysis, of which 555 were up-regulated and 522 were down-regulated in the WF vs. BF petals. Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes analyses of the DEGs revealed that a single gene up-regulated in BF was related to multiple metabolic pathways including metabolic process, cellular process, protein-containing complex, etc. Additionally, the transcript levels of most of the structural genes related to anthocyanin synthesis were significantly higher in BF than in WF. Selected genes were analyzed by qRT-PCR and the results were highly consistent with the RNA-Seq results. The functions of RhF3’H and RhGT74F2 were verified by transient overexpression analyses, and the results confirmed that both affect the accumulation of anthocyanins in ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. We have obtained comprehensive transcriptome data for the rose variety ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. Our results provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying rose color formation and even blue rose formation.