Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 31, Issue 7, pp 1141–1157 | Cite as

Genetic engineering and sustainable production of ornamentals: current status and future directions

  • Henrik Lütken
  • Jihong Liu Clarke
  • Renate Müller


Through the last decades, environmentally and health-friendly production methods and conscientious use of resources have become crucial for reaching the goal of a more sustainable plant production. Protection of the environment requires careful consumption of limited resources and reduction of chemicals applied during production of ornamental plants. Numerous chemicals used in modern plant production have negative impacts on human health and are hazardous to the environment. In Europe, several compounds have lost their approval and further legal restrictions can be expected. This review presents the more recent progress of genetic engineering in ornamental breeding, delivers an overview of the biological background of the used technologies and critically evaluates the usefulness of the strategies to obtain improved ornamental plants. First, genetic engineering is addressed as alternative to growth retardants, comprising recombinant DNA approaches targeting relevant hormone pathways, e.g. the gibberellic acid (GA) pathway. A reduced content of active GAs causes compact growth and can be facilitated by either decreased anabolism, increased catabolism or altered perception. Moreover, compactness can be accomplished by using a natural transformation approach without recombinant DNA technology. Secondly, metabolic engineering approaches targeting elements of the ethylene signal transduction pathway are summarized as a possible alternative to avoid the use of chemical ethylene inhibitors. In conclusion, molecular breeding approaches are dealt with in a way allowing a critical biological assessment and enabling the scientific community and public to put genetic engineering of ornamental plants into a perspective regarding their usefulness in plant breeding.


Biotechnology Compactness Ethylene Growth regulator Molecular breeding Transformation 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrik Lütken
    • 1
  • Jihong Liu Clarke
    • 2
  • Renate Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.Crop Sciences, Department of Agriculture and Ecology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of CopenhagenTaastrupDenmark
  2. 2.Bioforsk-Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, Plant Health DivisionÅsNorway

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