Diseases smell like roses

Iconic among flowers, the scent of the rose is enjoyed by many people around the world. But this smell could not be found: it is the result of the attack of a virus, followed by the result of the times that rearranged the genes of some Rosaceae millions of years ago, and led in this ability of the petals to express their nature. smell. This is the result of a study conducted by the University of Saint-Etienne, published on January 12, 2022 in Molecular Biology and Evolution.

We have been producing roses for 20 years and in 2015 we published a study on the gene responsible for geraniol in roses, one of the molecules responsible for their fragrance. This is something that many perfumers like“, explains Jean-Claude Caissard, professor-researcher at the department of plant biotechnologies applied to aromatic and medicinal plants (LBVpam) of the University of Saint-Etienne, for the Science and the future. “This first discovery was in garden roses, so we wondered if this smell was a result of human selection, or if it was a type of wild roses – that is, rosehips, rather than their home.

A gene full of resources

This well-known gene responsible for the production of geraniol is called NUDX1. It exists in many living things, only in one copy. But in early Rosaceae, this gene was mistakenly duplicated in three copies on the same chromosome during cell proliferation. “Some plants produce geraniol, such as basil or lemongrass, but it is produced by terpene synthases, continued Jean-Claude Caissard. We know that this is not the case with roses, which produce geraniol thanks to a hydrolase like nudix, an enzyme encoded by the NUDX1 gene..”

In mammals, bacteria or other plants, the NUDX1 gene does not perform the same function as in roses. For example, it is responsible for the red color of blood oranges or for the production of proteins necessary for human vision. “Normally, in other organisms, this gene has nothing to do with smell. So we tried to find its type in the Rosaceae family, going back to plants that are relatives of roses, like strawberries for example, in order to check when it was found This is his new job.

A rosehip was contaminated millions of years ago

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