(Kat Bryant | The Daily World) Bumblebees love visiting Dale Dineen’s lavender field.

New Study discovers gene that makes lavender smell sweet

UBC Okanagan believes the study could lead to better smelling lavender

For many, summer isn’t complete without fields of purple and the sweet smell of lavender.

Valued especially for its pleasant aroma, a new study from UBC’s Okanagan campus has discovered the gene that gives lavender its iconic smell and researchers hope that one day it might lead to a super-smelling plant.

Lavender essential oil contains many different types of compounds, but one in particular—S-linalool—is responsible for giving the plant a well-known sweet aroma.

Related: Steele: Lavender, a high-performance xeriscape plant

“There are many desirable compounds within the flowering body of lavender that produce its essential oil, each controlled by a host of different genes,” said Soheil Mahmoud, associate professor of biology at UBC Okanagan and study lead author. “Scientists have been trying to identify and sequence the gene responsible for the oil’s sweet smell for years, especially given its obvious application in the cosmetic industry.”

The problem is that the genetic instructions that produce the sweet compound have been poorly understood. Mahmoud explains that the gene, which is responsible for a protein that synthesizes the valuable compound, is rarely expressed and produces only very small quantities of the sweet molecule. That has made it difficult to isolate and study.

But Mahmoud and his team were able to overcome the challenge by sequencing an RNA copy of the gene—a temporary blueprint that gets copied and released into a cell as it gets turned into a functioning protein. From there, they were able to sequence the gene and model its function.

Related: Lavender can create natural pesticides

“Now that we have the gene sequence and understand how it works, the next step is to engineer a version of the gene that produces even more of the valuable S-linalool,” Mahmoud said. “Lavender essential oils rich in S-linalool are extremely expensive, so a super sweet-smelling lavender plant would certainly be appealing to the cosmetic and fragrance industries.”

“It’s exciting to find the mechanism that gives one of my favourite plants its wonderful smell.”

The research was published in the journal Planta with funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna teen to speak to agriculture minister for World Food Day

Justin Kulik will present his petition to the Ministry of Agriculture on World Food Day

B.C.’s proportional representation referendum: The case for switching to PR

Proponent says PR will give B.C. better political representation

To change, or not to change, that is the proportional representation referendum question

B.C. residents to be asked to decide how they want vote for MLAs in the future

Okanagan Sun finish regular season atop B.C. Football Conference

Clinch home field advantage for Cullen Cup playoffs

Documentary about embedded misogyny in music industry screened at BreakOut West

Kinnie Starr’s documentary screening closed the last day of the festival and conference

Find me my furever home

Frankie is available for adoption from the Kelowna BC SPCA

Freestyle motocross riders bring death-defying tricks to the South Okanagan

Freestyle Motocross World Tour is coming to the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Documentary series investigates missing North Okanagan women

APTN Investigates: Dark Valley airs Oct. 19

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

Most Read