Topics & Food for thought


1. Biodiversity and access to genetic resources
2. Strategies for breeding and selection of new sustainable ornamentals
3. New Genomic Techniques and ornamental plant breeding
4. The contribution of breeder to the sustainability of the ornamental sector
5. Morphogenesis (flower development and breeding)


Food for thought

1) Biodiversity and access to genetic resources

The Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted at the Rio Summit in 1992 and is the main international instrument that provides a comprehensive and holistic approach to the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits deriving from the use of genetic resources. Prior to the entry into force of the Convention, genetic resources, wherever located, were generally regarded as a heritage of humankind and could be freely accessed without restriction, without the authorization of the country in which they were found and with no obligation to share the benefits from their use.  The objectives of the International Treaty applied to all PGRFA (Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture) are the conservation and sustainable use of all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use.  The multilateral system for ABS (Access and Benefit Sharing) applies only to those genetic resources included in Annex 1. Genetic resources not included in Annex 1 of the treaty comprise many food and agricultural crops and all ornamental crops. 

A wide range of sectors are engaged in the research and development of commercial products from genetic resources. They include seed, crop protection and ornamental horticulture.  The ornamental sector is characterized by the continuous introduction of new products, i.e., improved versions or new uses of already known flowers and unknown new ornamental species. For this reason, plant breeders continue to hunt native plants to get new flower and foliage color and other important traits related e.g., to disease resistance or to adaptability to stress conditions. Moreover, the use of wild material can be envisaged to enhance the production of specialty ornamental crops which in turn could improve a sustainable production. Although the use od wild species brings us huge potentialities to create novelties for the ornamental sector, many challenges should be faced to start a breeding program or to develop a production protocol. We urge the participants of this symposium to present their research on this topic and to share their success stories.

2) Strategies for breeding and selection of new sustainable ornamentals

Acceptance of ornamental crops depends on a large extent on flower color, fragrance and shape. Flower number and size, uniformity of blooming, as well as plant shape, patterning and color determine the crop's appeal. Flower longevity is another of the most important traits in ornamental plants. What climate change means for horticulture? Changes in temperature and rainfall regimes, exotic weather events, loss of water resources, rising sea levels and the spread of new diseas and pests threaten the viability of production areas across the globe. The production of cut flowers and plants cannot neglect these aspects which require new strategies. "Never against nature" was the motto that inspired Thomas Hanbury's entire life. it is still valid today. Plants in the right place and in the right time are essential for carbon capture, water management, regulating temperature, and biodiversity conservation. Each production strategy should consider the ornamental plant also for other auxiliary roles, so that the ornamental plant becomes multi-functional, to improve the living environment and reduce our ecological footprint.

3) New Genomic Techniques and ornamental plant breeding

Several breeding methods have been applied to develop new ornamental cultivars. Intraspecific and interspecific crosses, ploidy manipulation, mutation breeding, and molecular breeding are currently applied in the breeding programs of ornamental crops. Many researches have contributed to the knowledge of important genes, genetic architecture and genomic information and could improve the breeding work in many ornamentals. E.g. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated targeted mutagenesis is a powerful tool for crop breeding as well as for biological research, This technology can also be applied in the ornamental plant sector and there is no lack of examples in this regard. Gene targeting and gene editing techniques based on programmable site-directed nucleases (SDNs), chimeric repressor gene silencing technology (CRES-T) and other techniques also can be applied in the ornamental sector. In this session of our symposium we will focus on understanding the new frontiers of the breeding for the ornamental sector.

4) The contribution of breeder to the sustainability of the ornamental sector

During the last decades, the main goal in many commercial ornamental breeding programs has remained unchanged in a changing world: to develop new cultivars with improved floral attributes (colour, shape, perfume, enhanced vase life), leaf characteristics or plant habit. Only recently sustainability has gained increased interest by ornamental plant breeders. The plant breeders are indeed more strictly included in the productive flow. In this session, we would like to listen to the breeder’s point of view.

5) Morphogenesis (flower development and breeding)

Flowering is an important stage and its comprehension is useful both for breeding purposes and for production scheduling. The initiation of flower development and the formation of different floral organs are the results of the interplays among different factors. Therefore, the floral pattern formation is attracting growing attention in recent years and new genes of the flower development have been identified  to understand the sophisticated relationships of gene regulations underlying the floral pattern formation or the flower color determinism.



Last update 2 November 2022