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Spring 2003 - Sweet

Destination Purdue > Spring 2003 - Sweet

How sweet it is

By Morgan Conklin

Hey, ladies, imagine those Valentine's Day roses maintaining their sensuous smell until you hit the beaches for spring break. With research and some breaking discoveries, this may become a reality.

Natalia Dudareva, a Purdue University associate professor in horticulture, and her team of graduate and undergraduate students are working to discover the basis of scent production in snapdragons and petunias in an effort to determine how a flower produces its smell. With this information, they will be able to make a flower smell stronger for a longer period of time.

"We hope to improve the scent quality of flowers because, during the breeding process, they lose their scent," said Dudareva, who has been working on this research at Purdue for more than five years. "With this knowledge, we can assist the industry as well as consumers." Through a series of tests and procedures, the researchers hope to determine the elements of a flower involved in scent production.

Justin Bell, a student in the School of Science, is collecting data from the gene thought to create scent. With it, researchers could improve scent quality, which would attract more pollinators, promoting more floral reproduction. This could assist florists with their business.

Mary Lou Hayden, Purdue floral design instructor, is eager to see the results once the research is done. "I think that florists will notice a big change if this research pulls through," she said. "People will be more willing to spend money on flowers if they are of better quality."

Not only will this research help florists market what Bell coins as the "forever smelling flower," but it will have some perks for industries as well. Perfume companies are interested in the research. The scent genes that the researchers hope to isolate will benefit the industry because they can utlize them to make new scents that will be passed on to consumers, Bell siad.

"This research is something I am sure people in the world will be thankful for," Bell said.