Sunday, February 14, 2016

On Valentine’s Day, Israeli Flowers Are Smelling Better Than Ever

OrchidsIsraeli professor Alexander Vainstein, the head of a team of researchers at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot (a satellite campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), had never planned to find a treatment for malaria, but that's exactly what he did. An accidental treatment was found with the help of some colorful flowers.

It all started with adding molecules to the genetic base of existing flowers in order to change the color of the flowers. But that was only the beginning.

They found that their technology also creates flowers with stronger scents, which in turn attracted more bees and thereby yielded larger crops.

It turned out that the chemical pathway that alters the scent of flowers also generated a drug against malaria. Ultimately, the knowledge gained from altering flowers for their beauty and scent led to finding better ways to grow artemesinin, a compound that fights malaria.

Vainstein's team was able to genetically engineer tobacco plants to produce artemisinin and hopefully save millions from malaria's deadly fate.

In the meantime, consumers can look forward to future Valentine's Days filled with more colorful and better scented flowers from Israel.

Read more about it here.

Off to smell the roses, till next time!


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