7.31.2017

Genetic engineering creates an unnaturally blue flower

The approach is generic enough that you could theoretically apply it to other flowering plants. Blue roses, anyone? There are broader possibilities, too. While the exact techniques clearly won’t translate to other lifeforms, this might hint at what’s required to produce blue eyes or feathers. And these color changes would be useful for more than just cosmetics. Pollinating insects tend to prefer blue, so this could help spread plant life that has trouble competing in a given habitat.

Just don’t count on picking up a blue bouquet. You need a permit to sell any genetically modified organism in the US, and there’s a real concern that these gene-modified flowers might spread and create havoc in local ecosystems. The research team hopes to make tweaked chrysanthemums that don’t breed, but that also means you’re unlikely to see them widely distributed even if they do move beyond the lab. Any public availability would likely hinge on a careful understanding of the flowers’ long-term impact.

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