Training assistant Sara Abdou will perform further research with dr Julian Verdonk of the Wageningen University into the question why the colour orange is so difficult to obtain in ornamental breeding. Together with three other projects, Sara’s research initiative has been awarded in the fifth financing round of the program ‘Graduate School Tuinbouw & Materialen’.
Many consumers are fond of orange as a flower colour. Unfortunately, orange is missing in a certain number of ornamental crops, such as petunia. In 2017, it was discovered that all the orange petunias on the market were genetically manipulated.
In petunia anthocyanins (mainly purple and pink pigments) are more common than carotenoids (mainly yellow and orange). Some sort of mechanism seems to block the carotenoids and Abdou’s project is aiming at revealing the precise functioning of this blocking reaction. This knowledge could largely contribute to the development of natural orange petunias and might be useful in other ornamental breeding too.