RESEARCH

RESEARCH

Our company, Pheno Geno Roses, has been involved from the very start, seven years ago, in several rose research projects. Mainly due to the fact that our mother company Roath b.v. is located in the Netherlands, research projects are mostly located there as well. However, a part of the practical testing is conducted on the trial fields in Serbia such as our winter hardiness tests which are just a small part of our commercial breeding program.
Our vision is to become a leader in the application of modern techniques, combining them with the art of breeding, so we could fashion roses by everyone’s liking. Bringing satisfaction to our customers as well as listening to their needs is something we’ve made a commitment to.

 

MAIN RESEARCH PROJECTS:

1. 3B Project

The long coevolution between flowering plants and wild bees has led to an unbroken morphological connection and a semi-direct direct dependence between particular groups of bees and certain plant taxa. Modern horticulture, with a clear tendency to form new, eye-catching flowering varieties, often characterized with high petal number, has led to the emergence of a large number of horticulture species, which, because of their drastic differentiation of morphology from primitive varieties, does not allow pollination or it was drastically reduced. In this way, significant evolutionary interactions are terminated and the adequate development of bees is prevented. This practice leads to a significant decrease in the number and diversity of the pollinators.
 In 2019 PhenoGeno Roses set up experiment with Biological Faculty of Novi Sad in order to test which roses attract insects the most. The insect presence was monitored at the fields and difference in attracting bees among cultivars was tested. The results indicated that Mella collection is suitable for attracting the bees, especially cultivar Barbi Mella. Furthermore, it was concluded that larger number of petals had log access to pollen. The general conclusion is that cultivars with lower number of petals (in this case pollen is more exposed and not hidden by petals) attract more bees.

 

2. Disease detection project

Plant diseases posed an important problem as it reduced the quality and quantity of agricultural products, and at that moment made a negative use of the economies that primarily depend on agriculture. Observing plants for disease detection play a key role in successful plant cultivation. Currently, the most common method of monitoring plants is manual: experts observe plants and give their opinions about the disease at stake. This approach is based on the subjective judgment of experts. A scale from 1 to 10 is used to evaluate the disease, with 1 representing the complete absence of disease and 10 the total absence of leaves or the highest level of infection.
This approach can be very costly and time consuming depending on the number of plants that need to be evaluated. Very often, it takes extensive and physically exhausting work to be done at the field, that may be limited by weather conditions (high temperature, precipitation). Also, developing countries may find it difficult to reach experts who may be away from where the plants have to be evaluated.
The period when level of the disease has to be evaluated overlaps with other stages of the growing and breeding cycle. In the case of a rose, the stages are pollination, selection and evaluation of breeding material, grafting of superior material, harvesting of hips and seed extraction. Therefore, the search for fast, accurate and inexpensive plant disease detection methods - the process of automation - is of great importance.
The automation process aimed at eliminating the subjectivity of the assessor, increased the accuracy of the procedure, acceleration of the process itself and reduction of the cost. Pheno Geno Roses realized the project: "AUTOMATIC DETECTION OF ROSE DISEASE BASED ON IMAGE USING ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORKS" in collaboration with the Faculty of Technical Sciences of Novi Sad and student Miloš Živković. Based on symptom photography for 4 diseases: powdery mildew, black spot, rust and downy mildew, an application for disease detection and recognition has been developed. The designed model of artificial neural networks had an accuracy of 90.56%.

 

3. LED Project

The garden rose market in Western Europe has been shrinking for 40 years.  To overcome this, new added values are needed as well as optimization of growing potential. For rose growers is important that roses are disease resistant and that can be delivered in good time during important holidays. Garden roses are mainly grown under conditions that are limited to controllable growth and the moment of flowering cannot be influenced. PhenoGeno Roses in collaboration with Frank Coenders and Erik Coenders started a research on exploring the possibilities of LED lighting in controlled conditions and its effect on the development of the plant and flowers. The added value of the intended innovation will mainly come to the fore in the moment when the roses can be marketed.
Thanks to the innovation, rose growers can ensure the right moments (important days) blooming roses on the market. At the moment edible roses, and in particular the petals, are in the spotlight, but require a continuous delivery throughout the year. Under the influence of LED lighting the appropriate varieties are developed that can meet this requirement. An additional necessity is that fragrance and taste are not affected. This innovation can also be of great value in the breeding process, thanks to the faster development and the possibility to start several generations in one year, what can accelerate the breeding process. For the rose sector, this development has the effect that it is possible to respond faster and better on signals and market demand for more sustainably grown products and the desire to be on have blooming roses available for specific days. Garden roses can, in combinations with this added value (at the right time) and new market concepts (sustainable edible roses), being presented.

 

4.  HIGH PERFORMANCE ROSES: A NEW IMPULSE FOR GARDEN ROSES BY MOLECULAR MARKER TECHNOLOGY (2009 - 2013)

Pheno Geno Roses completed a 4 years TTI project, co-financed by 2 trading companies involved in the trade of garden roses: Frank Coenders Rozen and the Regional Cooperative of Rose Growers.

To date, breeding in garden roses relies mostly on classical breeding. The aim of this project was to enable marker-assisted breeding (MAB) in this auto-tetraploid crop, starting with two essential traits for the booming Central- and Eastern-European markets: winter hardiness and recurrent flowering. Sufficient levels of these traits are known to exist in Canadian cultivars and wild East European germplasm, while winter hardiness is insufficient in Western European cultivars.

As the current rose breeding is empiric and little is known on garden rose genetics, the aim of the Hyper-rose project was to provide insight into garden rose diversity and differentiation, develop new methods for quantification of allele dosage in tetraploid cultivars, and develop new strategies for generating highly polymorphic SSR markers from transcriptomic sequences. Parallel, the mapping population was made by crossing European and Canadian cultivars and their progeny was exposed to low temperature under controlled (cold chambers) and uncontrolled (trial field) conditions.

All these findings enabled creation of a high-density genetic map using SSR and SNP markers and detecting QTLs for winter hardiness. As a final outcome, a set of markers enable to distinguish susceptible from for winter hardy cultivars in an early stage (few set of leaves) were proposed, which will help avoid long trial field testing (which depends on the climate) and shorten the breeding period.

These results will give a competitive advantage in the breeding of new cultivars, evident from the larger market share in segments with higher prices for involved companies.

This project was conducted at WUR-Plant Breeding, represented by dr Rene Smulders and dr Paul Arens, as well as Pheno Geno’s R&D Manager Mirjana Vukosavljev Olujić who completed her PhD thesis on this project.

 

5.   POLYPLOID PROJECT 2: A GENETIC ANALYSIS PIPELINE FOR POLYPLOID CROPS (START 2013)

Pheno Geno Roses is a small partner in this large project with Wageningen UR Plant Breeding and 10 breeding companies of polyploid crops in the Netherlands.

In diploid crops we see a large development of marker-assisted breeding. In polyploid crops we see much more difficulties in the inheritance of traits. In this project we aim to develop both methods and software for genetic analysis of polyploidy crops. For our company it would be very interesting to see the similarities and differences between our roses, cut-roses and other polyploid crops.

 

6.   IMPROVING GERMINATION OF SEEDS FROM HYBRID ROSE VARIETIES

Aim of this study was to provide a better understanding of the causes of low seed germination of roses. Rose seeds are subject to two types of seed dormancy (physical and physiological) due to the stony endocarp and physiological barriers within the seed, which inhibit germination. In addition, low seed quality can be a major cause of low germination. In order to improve rose seed germination, dormancy has to be broken, while sustaining a high seed quality. Therefore, five main experiments were performed focusing on sustaining a high seed quality and breaking seed dormancy of cultivated roses. Part of this research was conducted at HAS Den Bosch in the Netherlands, with dr Mark, v.d. Wouw and ir. Jasper den Besten. Other persons were involved in this research as well.

 

7.    USE OF ROSE-HIPS AND PETALS AS A FOOD PRODUCT (START 2015)

In 2015 Pheno Geno Roses had started a food project in cooperation with Frank Coenders, a rose grower in the Netherlands. The aim of this study is to identify rose cultivars of which the petals or hips are suitable for eating.

Eating roses is actually very healthy, because they contain a lot of antioxidants. This is especially true for the hips, which not only contain a large amount of antioxidants, but also have a high concentration of vitamin C. Additionally, composition of rose petals (vitamins, antioxidants, phenols, carotenoids, etc.) candidates them as a new potential source of food. Till now rose petals are used in wine and jam production, while their usage for fresh salads is not considered widely. At the moment, mainly wild rose cultivars are used for food. That is a trend we are hoping to change by highlighting the importance of domesticated cultivars. During this large scale study around 340 cultivars in total was tested and new varieties are still being included into research as our breeding program continues to expand.

The aim of this project is to detect which rose cultivars are the most valuable for the nutrition (from biochemical aspect), which are the most appropriate for human intake (taste characteristics), to detect which parents are good donors of characteristics related to nutrition, and to detect tools for MAB (QTLs).

To be a good rose for the food industry the flowers and hips should not only have a nice taste, but should also have a good nutritional value, look good and have a nice fragrance suitable for food.

During the study we continue to map all these different traits. A study is currently being conducted that will provide us the insight in how the flowers and hips look, taste, smell and grow. Next to these phenotypic values, attention must be given to the nutritional value of the flowers and hips. We are especially interested in the content of malic acid, citric acid, vitamin C, total antioxidants and sugars. In addition to these measurements, we are also looking at the DNA to find genes for these traits. These genes can be used in marker assisted breeding.

Using the results following this study, we can open new market possibilities. Based on the results, we can start breeding new cultivars which are perfectly suited for the use as a food ingredient. Since this kind of large scale study has never been previously performed and no other rose breeder is currently breeding for the food industry, this gives us some unique possibilities.

First Edible rose variety was introduced in summer 2018 and new varieties are expected to be introduced in the following years.

 

8. Disease resistance project

The current rose cultivation is experiencing problems that will only increase in the future if there no action is taken. Roses in the floriculture sector are the largest crop group. Also, be worldwide both garden roses and cut roses are still seen as the 'queen among the flowers'. Nevertheless, the position of the rose is discussion: the rose is prone to diseases and pests causing the use of chemical plant protection products necessarily high. Consumers are increasingly asking for healthy products, where the use of chemical crop protection products is significantly reduced. Also, the public insists on sustainability. There has to change something to prevent the cultivation of roses from being compromised. Solution for this problem is breeding of disease resistant roses. In order to obtain general knowledge on disease resistance and develop a roadmap for breeding of healthy roses, PhenoGeno Roses in collaboration with Wageningen University, Frank Coenders Rosen, and De Ruiter started a project in 2019. The aim of this research is to accelerate the breeding of roses that are resistant to three of the important diseases: powdery mildew, blackspot, and Agrobacterium (a growing problem). We do this through the genetic basis of resistance to Agrobacterium, and to develop DNA markers for resistances against these three diseases. DNA markers are indispensable to quickly enter these resistances during the breeding of rose cross and then combine efficiently in rose varieties that are suitable for sustainable cultivation, so cultivation without use of pesticides. This innovation is now possible because it capitalizes on worldwide research that has been set up and implemented in the past decades and will lead to actual implementation in smaller ones breeding companies in the ornamental sector of this fundamental knowledge.

 

Fragrance project - Hyperroses 2.2 Fragrant Heat and Drought Tolerant Roses

Breeding outdoor roses with a focus on essential oil compounds for citysumers and the processing industry

Roses have high cultural and economic importance as ornamental plants. First records on rose cultivation date back to 5000 years ago from China, western Asia, and northern Africa. In ancient civilizations of Crete, Greece, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, and Rome roses had been planted mainly because of their fragrant petals and edible hips. Thanks to their scent, medicinal and culinary attributes rose usage expanded to industry. Especially significant roses have in the perfume industry. From the genetic point of view modern roses represent a complex mosaic: it is expected that up to 20 wild species gave a contribution to the final genetic fingerprint. During a long process of natural and later artificial selection driven by breeders genetic diversity of roses is narrow down. Unfortunately, most of the modern roses bred for exotic colors lost their scent. 

Market research indicates that there is a market worldwide of € 50 - € 100 million turnover for producing essential oils for the processing industry. Until now the production is done with R. damascena ‘trigintipetala’. This variety is characterized with excellent rose oil quality. On the other hand this variety is susceptible both to the diseases blackspot and rust ad well as low temperatures. Furthermore, current knowledge highlights that essential oils are emitted from the petal base and R. damascena ‘trigintipetala’ has 17 – 25 petals. If the number of petals is multiplied with breeding several times and the amount of essential oil per leave is kept the same, it will be a very promising market for a rose breeder.   Aim of this project is to evaluate fragrance profiles of standard cultivars, detect genetic factors which lead to the fragrance expression, and develop a breeding strategy for fragrant roses.

 

9.    DATA BASE AND BREEDING SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

The key features of this project are focused on building a database with breeding information, as well as providing useful output which increases the efficiency of breeding. It covers the most important breeding projects (from pollination to selection of commercial varieties) and has a goal to store breeding data, to use algorithms for planning specific projects and to provide an overview of breeding results in different reports.