Istituto Sperimentale per la Floricoltura di Sanremo

XXII EUCARPIA Symposium - Section Ornamentals - Breeding for Beauty

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XXII EUCARPIA Symposium (Section Ornamentals)


Without doubt, no other scientific session would dare to be introduced with this heading. The reasons are well founded: the flower sellers’ customers, the only people qualified to judge the value of the product on the shelf, are chiefly in search of beauty, and flowers, as subjects of inspiration, cannot be less than perfect.
Some people think that inspiration comes from personal sensibility, but it is a fact the man’s aesthetical perspectives bypass nature’s beauty to reach the greatness of art. Others consider that beauty is a matter for the growers, but it is undeniable that not even an excellent grower can reach perfection where the possibility of perfection does not exist. Beauty in flowers means perfection and for applied researchers, faultless quality, results in a more pragmatic goal. However, in living matter beauty fades quickly, so durability is the second main feature essential to gaining competitive market value. In short, the task for us, dealing with the most up to date and powerful research protocols, is how to combine conventional and advanced methods to get that durable and faultless beauty.
A continuous flow of protocols, software, devices, in short advanced technologies, is made available in our labs, sometimes much too fast for us, to exhaustively test their effectiveness in our genetically varied plant material.
At present, the applied researcher’s real task is to choose the right combination of methods (strategy) and plant (genetic) material to get, by a cost effective application, an innovative product for the customer. That means having a deep knowledge of the genetic features of plant material and of course excellent ability to manage the methods, to express their best potential. In fact, customer acceptance is largely unpredictable.
For this reason the basic strategy of genetic improvement in ornamentals still remains unchanged, even after the advent of biotechnology. That is to say: the exploitation of the genetic variability for the production of a continuous flow of original new genotypes, aesthetically appealing to the customer, satisfying the continuous demand for novelty. The turn-over of varieties is in fact the true economic engine of the market.
Molecular methods offer a series of matchless innovative applications to produce innovation. Advanced Methods may interact in a more sophisticated way with such large and differentiated genomes as represented by ornamentals. But a sound knowledge of the specie genomes remains essential to implementing the effective applications of biotechnology, possibly borrowed from other research domains.
Plant genome in ornamentals is a huge and intriguing field which is often recalcitrant to accept sophisticated biotech approaches; moreover ornamentals by themselves, generally cannot afford the development on their own molecular devices, (just the Petunia and some few others are considered as model plants) but offer such a large assortment of genetic plant material to balance this constraint and to offer a wide choice of original applications. Nevertheless ornamentals are not scientifically an empty space; in any case for the new entry species it is exciting to develop a scientific background of basic knowledge for new goals.
If the interspecific crosses and mutagenesis were offered in the past as a new frontier to enhance variability, today molecular methods are the key to entering an unexplored universe to search for novel interaction resulting in innovative products.
In doing so, it’s easy to loose yourself in a universe much larger than that represented by the plant community. But, the Symposium, where over 50 genus were treated, is the best proof that we don’t run this risk.
A special place was devoted to speakers coming from regions with extraordinary biodiversity, invited as resource people, aiming to convey, I hope, new input, ideas and foster collaborative projects.
Perspectives about exotic flora were presented such as molecular methods to stimulate the researchers’ imagination for realizing new and original applications. A special session dealt with emerging patent problems, with the most authoritative specialist attendance and, the opening lecture, in an unconventional approach, showed how growing beautiful flowers may help human existence in different economical realities. This lecture together with a residual oral communication and full papers of 17 posters selected by the scientific committee are included in the second volume of Acta Horticulturae. Full papers of 6 key notes and 18 oral communications were already available at the Symposium as a publication of Acta Horticulturae, number 714.

Tito Schiva
Symposium Convener

Enkel - Due Metri