Bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects used to be the only creatures who transferred pollen from flower to flower. Nowadays, it is often a person with a fine brush.
At first this was done in greenhouses. For example, Leslie Woodruff, who bred the famous ‘Stargazer’ lily, worked in an old, broken-down greenhouse in California, but more and more, the work is done now by geneticists in laboratories.
Scent, which tells insects where to find nectar and pollen, as well as where to lay eggs, is disappearing from many bioengineered flowers. Most flowers in the cut flower trade are now bred more for shelf life; long, straight stems; and varied shapes and colors. And many have no scent at all.
Scent is certainly not needed in hothouse flowers since pollination is never a goal, and other traits are more important than scent. For example, the ‘Stargazer’ lily was bred to face upwards, not downwards, and it changed the lily business forever. The ‘Stargazer’ was named because it looks up at the stars, which also makes it much more attractive in a vase.
Lilies are among the cut flowers that have retained their scent. Others are phlox and eucalyptus. Often, they're added to bouquets because of their aroma.
This is Moya Andrews, and today we focused on bioengineering.