Placeholder Banner

Celebrate Valentine's Day with Color Changing Flowers

February 10, 2015
Wouldn't it be great if you could break the mold and give your special someone something other than Roses for Valentine's Day? Research being done at Revolution Bioengineering may allow you to do just that.

Revolution Bioengineering is a new biotech company in Fort Collins, CO that is working on building a Petunia Circadia, a flower that changes color throughout the day. The petunia will be developed using synthetic biology.
"There are exciting opportunities available right now in horticulture and floriculture to develop GM flowers, said Dr. Nickolai Braun, member of the Revolution Bioengineering Team.

"Developing consumer biotechnology for the average consumer (80 million US households garden, ~70% of USA) allows people to become more familiar with this technology."

In a recent press release, Dr. Braun outlined the science behind the project - Plants have circadian rhythms: cyclical expression of genes throughout the day. This allows them to start photosynthesis when the sun comes up or release fragrance in the evening when their pollinators are active. Petunia Circadia will harness this internal clock to regulate flower color, resulting in a flower that changes color over approximately twelve hours.

In a recent interview with the Silicon Republic, Keira Havens, CEO of Revolution Bioengineering, stated
“It is their hope that once they have developed the science, they will be able to remove the stigma attached to what the plant would be, a genetically modified organism (GMO).

"With examples in the news of engineered crops causing havoc with ecosystems and supposed negative effects on human health, the term GMO has almost become an acronym to fear in some circles.

"For Havens and Braun, however, they believe if they can show the beautiful side of science, their flowers could prove a watershed moment in pushing forward some other significant syn-bio advances that could greatly benefit the world."

Ideas and innovations like the color changing flower are exciting examples of how scientists are realizing the full potential of plant biotechnology. Unfortunately though it may bring a whole new palette of arguments to the GMO debate.

Check out this great video on one of Revolution Bioengineering's color changing flowers. The company plans on having this flower available for purchase in 2016.

[video width="480" height="480" mp4="/sites/default/files/legacy/blog/2015/02/AN1GR2-SD.mp4"][/video]

Also, here is a link to a great infographic by Revolution Bioengineering on "The Science of Color Changing Flowers."

Interested in seeing more examples of floral biotech? Below are some examples of university research groups out there that have made some interesting floral biotech innovations:

  • Yellow Morning Glory -The team, belonging to the National Institute for Basic Biology in Aichi Prefecture, announced Oct. 10 that it had successfully cultivated the yellow Morning Glory.

  • David Clarke at the University of Florida has been doing floral biotechnology as basic research.

  • Francesca Quattroccio at the University of Amsterdam has been studying floral color since the dawn of her career, and made several key breakthroughs for suntory and florigene.