Influence of rol genes in floriculture

Eva Casanova*, Maria Isabel Trillas, Lluïsa Moysset, Alexander Vainstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Traditionally, new traits have been introduced into ornamental plants through classical breeding. However, genetic engineering now enables specific alterations of single traits in already successful varieties. New or improved varieties of floricultural crops can be obtained by acting on floral traits, such as color, shape or fragrance, on vase life in cut-flower species, and on rooting potential or overall plant morphology. Overexpression of the rol genes of the Ri plasmid of Agrobacterium rhizogenes in plants alters several of the plant's developmental processes and affects their architecture. Both A. rhizogenes- and rol-transgenic plants display the "hairy-root phenotype", although specific differences are found between species and between transgenic lines. In general, these plants show a dwarfed phenotype, reduced apical dominance, smaller, wrinkled leaves, increased rooting, altered flowering and reduced fertility. Among the rol genes, termed rolA, B, C and D, rolC has been the most widely studied because its effects are the most advantageous in terms of improving ornamental and horticultural traits. In addition to the dwarfness and the increase in lateral shoots that lead to a bushy phenotype, rolC-plants display more, smaller flowers, and advanced flowering; surprisingly, these plants may have better rooting capacity and they show almost no undesirable traits. rolD, the least studied among the rol genes, offers promising applications due to its promotion of flowering. Although the biochemical functions of rol genes remain poorly understood, they are useful tools for improving ornamental flowers, as their expression hi transgenic plants yields many beneficial traits.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3-39
Number of pages37
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by research grant 1997FI 00286 to E.C. from CIRIT, Government of Catalonia, by research project PB98-1269 from DGESIC, MEC (Spain), by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and by the Association of Israeli Flower Growers.


  • Agrobacterium rhizogenes
  • Hairy-root disease
  • Ornamental plants
  • Rhizogenesis
  • Transformation
  • rol genes


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