Genetic model organisms have revolutionized science, and today, with the rapid advances in technology, there is significant potential to launch many more plant species towards model status. However, these new model organisms have to be carefully selected.
Hemerocallis (the daylily) satisfies multiple criteria for selection and deserves serious consideration as a subject of intensive biological investigation. Several attributes of the genus are of great biological interest. These include the strict control of flower opening and, within a short period, the precisely regulated floral death by a programmed cell death system. The self-incompatibility system in Hemerocallis is also noteworthy and deserves more attention. Importantly, the genus is widely cultivated for food, medicinal value and ornamental interest. Hemerocallis has considerable potential as a ‘nutraceutical’ food plant and the source of new compounds with biomedical activity. The genus has also been embraced by ornamental plant breeders and the extraordinary morphological diversity of hybrid cultivars, produced within a relatively short time by amateur enthusiasts, is an exceptional resource for botanical and genetic studies.
This paper in AoB PLANTS explores these points in detail, explaining the reasons why this genus has considerable value – both academic and socio-economic – and deserves new resources devoted to its exploration as a model. Its impact as a future model will be enhanced by its amenability to cultivation in laboratory and field conditions. In addition, established methods for various tissue and cell culture systems as well as transformation will permit maximum exploitation of this genus by science.