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Blue Roses for a Blue Lady?

  • Subject: [cg] Blue Roses for a Blue Lady?
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 09:13:15 EDT

Accidental Discovery May Bring Blue Roses


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 25) - Blue roses could generate a lot of green. Two researchers at Vanderbilt University took a gene from a human liver and placed it into bacteria to better understand how the body metabolizes drugs as part of their research on cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

"The bacteria turned blue," said Peter Guengerich, a professor of biochemistry and director of the Center in Molecular Toxicology at Vanderbilt. "We knew people have been interested in making a blue rose for years so we thought if we could move these human genes into flowers, we might come up with one."

The same discovery could also lead to blue cotton for jeans.

Guengerich and his colleague Elizabeth Gillam, a senior lecturer in pharmacology at the University of Queensland in Australia, have filed for a patent for their process.

If the process is successful, the researchers could be - ahem - sitting on a bed of roses.

Carol Spiers, assistant to the executive director of the American Rose Society, said a blue rose would be a first.

"There aren't any true blues," Spiers said. "The most popular so-called blue - Blue Girl - is mauve."

But the researchers have met some thorns along the way.

"In our initial attempts, the gene didn't know whether to turn the stem, the thorns or the flower blue," Guengerich said. "We've seen some of each."

The biochemists next must figure out how to target the flower with their "blue gene."

Guengerich said it could be a year or more before an actual blue bloom materializes.

If the process is perfected, it may be possible to grow blue cotton for use in, what else, blue jeans.

This would save manufacturers the cost of dying the white cotton used to make the blue, black or red denim.

Betty Smith of Betty Smith Nursery at the Nashville Farmers Market said a blue rose would almost certainly be a good seller.

"If somebody comes up with a blue rose, they'll sell well," she said. "People like blues and purples. I could sell a lot of them."

05/25/04 21:09 EDT

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