At the Flowers 2009 exhibition, pelargonium lovers were delighted with the appearance of the first yellow pelargonium “First Yellow” from Wolfschmidt Samen & Jungpflanzen, which purchased it from the manufacturer Elsner PAC Jungpflanzen. It is known that work on this variety has been carried out for 20 years, and other yellow varieties are on the way.
Pelargonium «First Yellow " - compact creamy yellow semi-double variety pelargonium zonal with rich green leaves without a zone characteristic of this species. Propagated by cuttings, seeds are not reproduced. In industrial cultivation, it needs little growth regulators.
The origin of the variety is hidden in secret - whether it is genetically engineered, or obtained by conventional hybridization with yellow South African pelargoniums. If the second statement is true, then there must be a parent with yellow flowers. Is there such a challenger?
Everything pelargoniumzonal - hybrids obtained from crossing two species - Pelargonium zonale and Pelargonium inquinans... They got their name for the presence of characteristic stripes on the leaves, although today there are many varieties without them.
Pelargonium articulatum - inflorescence
The species grows in South Africa articulated pelargonium(Pelargonium articulatum), a low plant with pale yellow flowers and a rhizome consisting of thick and thin sections, for which it probably got its specific name. It is characterized by early aging of the leaves, which become rather unattractive at the time the plant is in bloom. Flowering cannot be called plentiful - from 2 to 5 flowers are formed on several stems, and the flowering season is short. For cultivation in pots, the plant is not very attractive - long petioles and hanging leaf blades are a bad decoration. But for hybridization, in addition to the unusual color of flowers, there are other useful traits - short internodes, promising compactness, and light aromaticity of the leaves.
Pelargonium articulatum - leaves
This species has been used in Australia for interspecific hybridization through controlled cross-pollination. The first crossing of zonal pelargonium with articulated pelargonium was made in 1985. Pollen from an African plant was used on the paternal side. The main intrigue that everyone was interested in was whether the hybrids will have yellow flowers?
First Zonarctic hybrid
The firstborn was born in 1986 and had simple white flowers with reddish markings on the top petals. The plant habit was a cross between the parents. But the very fact that crossbreeding was possible was a significant result. Subsequently, many hybrid seedlings were obtained, they all differed from each other.
A year later, several hybrids were obtained that had pale yellow flowers, but this color remained stable for only a few days. Only since 1993 have there been positive trends. In 1994, a hybrid was obtained that had 80% of the genome of articulated pelargonium, which had semi-double pale yellow flowers of 9-11 petals, but it turned out to be too high and irregular in shape. However, this showed that the yellow color of the flowers could be inherited. We took 3 varieties as the initial ones - “Lara Purnal”, “Princess Fiat” and “Millfield Gem”. As a result, two promising seedlings were obtained from these parents - "Lara Classic" and "Lara Polka", and later "Lara Signal", which were further pollinated with articulated pelargonium pollen. In 1985, the self-explanatory “hybrid” name “Zonarctic” was coined, to which the prefix “Lara” was added on behalf of the breeder. Note that in order to obtain the Lara Zonarctic Hybrid line, articulated pelargonium was used 6 times both as a parent plant and as a mother plant.
1993 Semi-yellow Zonarctic Pelargonium
Subsequently, seedlings were selected that had at least 65% of the genome from Pelargonium articulatum, which turned out to be necessary to preserve the yellow color and, at the same time, the most compact and symmetrical in shape. So there is material for interspecific hybridization.
One of the last Zonarctic seedlings
Another way of obtaining yellow pelargonium is also possible - genetic engineering.It is known that the color of flowers of any plant is determined by pigments related to phenolic compounds: anthocyanins give colors from orange and red to blue and violet; flavones color plant tissues in yellow and cream tones. The combined presence of anthocyanins and flavones gives a variety of color shades. Pelargonium gave its name to the red pigment - pelargonidine, which predominates in the color of zonal pelargoniums. It was found that the yellow pigments of pelargonium are flavones and carotenoids.
They were interested in the possibility of obtaining yellow pelargonium back in the 19th century, but it was impossible to do this using conventional methods, since in pelargonium the zonal color of flowers is determined by anthocyanins, and there are no pathways for the synthesis of flavones and there is no gene for yellow color. Genetic engineering techniques allow this gene to be introduced from another plant.
Since it is not known whether this was done to obtain the yellow pelargonium "First Yellow", we will give an example. By means of biochemical studies, it has been established that in snapdragons, the color of flowers is due to pigments called aurons. The genes responsible for the synthesis of yellow auron, aureosidine glycoside, have been identified and inserted into the genome of the torenia cultivar "Summerwave Blue" in order to obtain a yellow color of the flowers. However, the endogenous anthocyanins responsible for the blue color of torenia remained dominant and prevented the appearance of yellow pigments. To solve this problem, it was necessary to introduce another gene responsible for suppressing the synthesis of anthocyanins. As a result, it was possible to obtain a yellow color of flowers in torenia. A similar strategy could be used for pelargonium.
Guernsey Flair (Thompson & Morgan)
Buttermilk (Van Meuwen)
Anyway, yellow pelargonium is obtained. But is she the first? The English company "Thompson & Morgan" also announced a breakthrough in floriculture - the world's first yellow zonal pelargonium «Guernsey Flair " with branched stems and flowers of medium size, lemon shade. Another contender for the championship is pelargonium "Buttermilk" ("Curdled milk") creamy yellow with velvety green foliage, from another English company - "Van Meuwen". With pelargonium "Guernsey Flair" - one face, and, as they say, not yellow at all, but rather cream.
Since the origin of all three new products is not known, only one thing is clear: if these are not miracles of genetic engineering, then, most likely, "chickens" from the same incubator - Australian.
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