I know that this year’s British summer hasn’t been much to write home about (and you would be writing home to the UK– who would have sojourned in that sodden isle given the choice?). But at least the traditional hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis – or pollinosis if caused generally by pollen) hasn’t been too bad this year as a result. But we’ve got to keep positive and look to the future, and hay fever could return and be as bad as in future years. So, welcome news that allergen-free pelargoniums have been created (at last, really useful research! and definitely something to write home about…) by the appropriately florally named Begoña García-Sogo et al. Using our old friend Agrobacterium and GM (genetic modification) they engineered some plants that lasted longer (florists will love that! almost as much as oil barons welcome cars powered by hydrogen from water…) – by producing more cytokinin – and others that were male sterile, in which pollen grains – a hay-fever-causing agent – were not observed (so no chance of the transgenes being unwittingly introduced to any wildtype pelargonium crops in your neighbour’s garden). And, by way of my own modest attempt at increasing outreach of a scientific publication – as encouraged so to do by Chris Gunter and Anne Osterrieder – I’m happy to advise that this article has been blogged by Simon Harold (who did not take part in the research reported), whose post gives a really good background to the science and relevance of the work carried out.
About the author
Nigel is a botanist and full-time academic at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany he contributes the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ. His main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way...) about plants and plant-people interactions.