Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Sweet Smell of Petunias



Researchers will be able to genetically engineer unscented plants to aid them in reproduction or repel against harmful organisms. The smell is composed from a mixture of benzaldehyde which is the same compound that is found in cherries and the organic compound phenylpropanoid, mostly found in perfumes. The sweet scent of petunias   used to attract pollinators is transported through the PhABCG1 protein. Joshua Widhalm, a horticulturist at Purdue University in West Lafayette used computer simulations to gain an understanding as to how the compounds moved but noticed that they were volatile compounds. Without the protein, the compounds would move out of the cell and damage the plant. In a recent study, done by Purdue biochemist Natalia Dudareva, indicated that during their opening stage, the levels of the PhABCG1 protein rose highly. So they then decided to study what would happen if they limited the production of the protein to around 70 to 80 percent less. The results demonstrated that when the plants produced less of the protein, they looked more wrinkled and their cell membranes were damaged meaning that the transporter protein is crucial to scented plants when their scent is released.   

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