671: Save the Flowers
No one knows what's responsible for this waning of fragrance by roses and other ornamental-flower varieties, including carnations and chrysanthemums, but scientists who investigate floral scent suspect that the flower breeding that's led to an estimated 18,000 rose cultivars in an ever-widening spectrum has run roughshod over fragrance.Evolution is a story of trade-offs. This is a testable evolutionary hypothesis.
"Pigment compounds are derived from the same biochemical precursors [as scent compounds are], so it makes sense that if you make more of one you get less of the other," notes floral-scent biochemist and geneticist Eran Pichersky of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Floral scent may be dwindling because breeders for the $30 billion ornamental-flower industry pay scant attention to this most emblematic attribute of flowers.
Thanks to BoingBoing for the tip.