As part of Israel's first project of its kind, genetic
researchers in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are
attempting to locate the genes that change flowers' shapes,
fragrances and colors.
Dr. David Weiss, project coordinator, related that new types
of genetic engineering developed during research of the
human gene are being used in this study. In the laboratory,
scientists isolate and decipher the structure of the gene
and the proteins of roses and carnations. The gene involved
in the scent of a tiny Californian plant with an
exceptionally exotic fragrance was recently introduced into
a carnation. The carnation now manufactures the same
"Most of the species developed by conventional genetic
methods lack the attractive element of fragrance," Dr. Weiss
explains. "Our faculty researchers, along with the
Administration of Agricultural Research, are striving to
upgrade the flowers with special fragrances."
In Professor Alexander Weinstein's Department for
Agricultural Science, the color of flowers is being studied.
A number of species of carnations in a variety of new colors
have recently been developed through genetic engineering.
The researchers are working on additional flowers, such as
roses and babies' breath. Professor Weinstein noted that in
the future, one will be able to pick and choose a flower's
color and fragrance.
Israel exports more than 1.5 billion flowers annually,
valued at 250 million dollars. These new developments will
enable the Israeli flower to be the most attractive on the
market. The Department of Agriculture of the Hebrew
University has been partner to the development of 40 per
cent of the flowers in today's market, while research
conducted by the Department is indirectly responsible for
the development of numerous other flower strains.