Posted on 11 March 2013 by

Gardening with Allergies

Photo Credit: DSC_5925 by Riku Kettunen used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo Credit: DSC_5925 by Riku Kettunen used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Every gardener who suffers from allergies knows the pros and cons of the allergy season.

Runny nose, headaches and coughing can ruin a great day of gardening.

Today, through the field of science, we as gardeners know longer have to suffer from seasonal allergies.

To do this, Spanish researchers searched long and wide for the perfect plant. What they came up with was the Pelargonium, which is a flowering shrub that is better known as the storkbill or geranium. Before moving on, these researchers decided that they wanted to create a plant that lived-long, did not produce pollen and in turn could not bred in the wild.

The lack of pollen production was the key to producing a plant that would not trigger allergies along with keeping the genes of a transgenic organism from invading the wild.

Agrobacterium tumefacien, a bacterium that is involved in gall disease, is used as a vessel to carry modified genes. One of these genes is the one responsible for the production of cytokinin. This plant hormone is the equivalent to a magical anti-aging serum.

Another modified gene that was introduced into the Agrobacterium tumefacie is one that prevents the formation of anthers and in turn the production of pollen.

This modified bacterium is then placed inside the geranium’s cell and allowed to replicate. New plants were then grown from these modified cells.

The results are promising not only for allergy suffers but also for the horticulture industry.

These plants developed smaller leaves then their counterparts but their blooms were brighter and lived-longer.

Today, these geraniums are not available in greenhouses. After regulatory approval, hopefully, they will become a choice in the horticulture industry.

So until we blog again, in the future the sneezing wheezing season will be a thing of folklore that is shared around the garden space.

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