A new day dawning: Hemerocallis as a model organism

Hemerocallis 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.

Rodriguez-Enriquez, M.J., and Grant-Downton, R.T. (2012) A new day dawn­ing: Hemerocallis (day­lily) as a future model organ­ism. AoB Plants 5: pls055 doi: 10.1093/aobpla/pls055


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