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Rose Scents

July 7, 2015

When it comes to their scent, not all roses are created equal. Now researchers have identified the gene responsible for how fragrant a flower will be.



Extraction of rose scents Credit A. Cheziere  Université Jean Monnet

Extraction of rose scents. (A. Cheziere /Université Jean Monnet)

The nose of a rose. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If the scent of a rose conjures up romantic feelings, you can thank a gene called RhNUDX1. French researchers discovered the gene, which tells the flowers’ petals to produce an enzyme called Nudix hydrolase. The researchers report in the journal Science that this enzyme is important for making the chemicals in rose scents. University of St. Etienne   biologist Silvie Baudino says they compared RhNUDX1 gene expression in a highly fragrant rose cultivar to a closely related, but scentless variety.

SILVIE BAUDINO (University of Saint Etienne):

And this gene was 7,000 times more expressed in the fragrant cultivar.


To confirm the gene’s importance, they blocked its expression, resulting in scent-impaired roses. Baudino says roses bred for flower shops are rarely scented, and she hopes the research will help rose breeders produce more fragrant flowers. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.