Taiwan makes horticultural advance


Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 10

Taiwan has scored a significant breakthrough in using genetic technology to produce rare flower colors, the Taiwan Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) under the Council of Agriculture announced yesterday.

"After years of research, we have discovered the gene that controls floral color transformation. We can now use the pigment biosynthetic gene found in the black outer skin of soybeans to create unusually colored ornamental flowers through gene transformation," said TARI director-general Lin Chun-yi.

The COA's major seed improvement and propagation stations around the island are now cooperating to produce these special color flowers, Lin said.

"Among them are purple and blue carnations, yellow phalaenopsis orchids and yellow flamingo flowers," Lin said, adding they will be ready for harvest soon.

Also being bred are purple and blue flowers such as lilies, dendrobium orchids, caladiums and chrysanthemums, Lin said.

According to Lin, Australia and Japan take the lead in using genetic engineering technology to grow purple carnations, which can sell for six times the price of other carnations.

"If we succeed in our experiments, we'll be able to help our horticulturalists make more money," Lin said.