New DNA screening method detects rare but concerning gene flow from garden roses to wild relatives.

Researchers in Japan have developed a new method to detect gene flow between cultivated garden roses and their wild relatives. Yuna Asagoshi and colleagues from Kyoto Prefectural University published their findings in the journal Plant Biotechnology.

The researchers were interested in investigating whether genes from cultivated roses can spread to wild populations through cross-pollination. This gene flow could potentially impact the genetic diversity of wild roses.

To study this, Asagoshi and colleagues planted garden rose cultivars alongside wild rose species in an agricultural field. They noticed that the blooming periods overlapped, and insects like bees visited both types of roses, likely transferring pollen between them.

The team used two DNA markers to detect gene flow. They looked for a mutation in the KSN gene linked to repeated flowering, and one in the AP2 gene associated with double flowers. Using these markers on bulk samples of DNA, leaves, or embryos allowed for the efficient screening of many plants.

The results showed some gene flow from garden cultivars to the wild roses Rosa multiflora and Rosa rugosa when planted in very close proximity. But overall, the cross-pollination seemed rare, given the low germination rates of wild rose seeds.

This research demonstrates a useful DNA screening method to assess gene flow from cultivated plants to wild relatives. While cultivated roses pose little risk to wild populations through cross-breeding, monitoring gene flow will be important for genetically modified roses in the future.

The new technique allows efficient testing of many plants at once by extracting DNA from pooled samples. This can save time compared to screening individual specimens, an important consideration for future large-scale monitoring.

Asagoshi, Y., Hitomi, E., Nakamura, N. and Takeda, S. (2023) “Gene-flow investigation between garden and wild roses planted in close distance,” Plant Biotechnology, (23.0708a). Available at:

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