Our company, Pheno Geno Roses, has been involved from the very start, ten years ago, in several rose research projects. Most of these projects are located in the Netherlands, since our company’s’ Dutch branch is 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.






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.




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.




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.




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.


5.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.




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.