Roger Hellens and a team of researchers have discovered the genes that control flower colour in Mendel’s pea plants. Listen to this radio broadcast from 19 May 2011.

RNZ audio: Colour in Mendel's peas.

Duration: 12:54

Updating Mendel’s experiments on peas

150 years ago, Austrian monk Gregor Mendel planted peas and looked at the inheritance of various characteristics, including flower colour. Find out more in our article, Mendel and inheritance. But it wasn’t until last year that a team of scientists, including Roger Hellens from Plant & Food Research, identified the genes that control for flower colour in pea plants.

Discovering the gene for pea flower colour

Roger Hellens describes how they were able to identify the gene by comparing the genome of pea plants with a well characterised legume called Medicago. The gene regulates the production of anthocyanins – pigment molecules that accumulate to create colour in pea flowers. This work is published in the journal PLoS-ONE.

In the future, these findings may be used to help people who are trying to breed red-fleshed kiwifruit.

An international collaboration

The work was a collaboration between scientists at Plant & Food Research, the John Innes Centre in the UK, URGV in France and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Services.

Ruth Beran speaks with Roger Hellens in a glasshouse in Palmerston North.

Programme details: Our Changing World.

    Published 31 August 2011