The flowering of a new scent pathway in rose

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Science  03 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6243, pp. 28-29
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac6509

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Floral scent is an important trait of ornamental roses that has provided sensual pleasures for humans since antiquity. However, most modern rose cultivars used for cut flowers have little fragrance as a result of breeding preferences for traits such as color and longevity. Restoring scent attributes by breeding or biotechnological means (1) requires a detailed understanding of the biosynthesis of rose scent. Rose fragrance consists of hundreds of volatile compounds with diverse biosynthetic origins whose amounts vary among the different rose varieties. Genomic approaches over the past 15 years have identified several genes and enzymes involved in rose scent production (2), but these efforts have not succeeded in elucidating the biosynthetic steps in the formation of geraniol and other monoterpenes that constitute one of the major groups of rose fragrances. On page 81 of this issue, Magnard et al. (3) describe the discovery of an unexpected enzymatic pathway to these scent compounds.