2012 Annual Report
In 2011, we finalized the addition of a wealth of new DNA sequence data through a joint 454 sequencing effort with European collaborators (Radboud University, University of Verona, IT). This effort has served as the foundation platform for sequencing the entired genomes of the petunia progenitor species P. axillaris and P. integrifolia. In addition, we published three new refereed manuscripts related to this project – all three publications acknowledge FNRI funding. This year, we already have two manuscripts in press, one manuscript submitted, and a manuscript in preparation and scheduled for submission by Aug 1st with all four publications acknowledging Floriculture Nursery Research Industry (FNRI) funding. In a novel approach to floriculture innovation, we have begun utilizing a system termed Consumer Assisted Selection (CAS). Initial market research analysis allows us to understand which plant characters have the most positive influence on consumer behavior. These characters then become the driver of Research and Development goals and efforts in biotechnology and breeding of new plants, and the driver of the rest of the supply chain, up to and including marketing to consumers. This concept and a psychophysical approach resulted in a publication this year. We have also continued to clone and characterize transcripts of possible petunia genes under the common types of transcriptional regulation exhibited by the floral volatile benzenoid/phenylpropanoid(FVBP) pathway genes as was shown in a manuscript published in 2010 in the journal Phytochemistry (FNRI funding was acknowledged, see 2010 report). This has led to isolation of several transcription factor genes that exhibit transcript accumulation patterns similar to the FVBP pathway genes. We have also isolated several new genes with putative involvement in direct biosynthesis of floral volatile synthesis pathway intermediates. We have made RNAi constructs for most all of these genes, and are currently analyzing these plants with reduced expression.