Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Power Flowers

PostedNovember 2, 2003

Even a short delivery truck ride can shake loose enough pollen to fertilize the flowers in your fresh bouquet. Problem is, those flower's whole purpose is to attract bees and other pollinators. Now fertilized, their petals aren't needed. They're a waste of energy. So flowers emit ethylene gas—a signal for petal cells to fall apart—making your fresh cut flowers wilt. One pollinated flower can spoil the bunch. But Florida molecular biologist Dave Clark has bioengineered petunias with a gene that makes them ignore ethylene—and it's not only Henry Heartthrob who's becoming smitten, but the flower industry as well. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.