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A few weeks ago I made the most interesting discovery. As I was ripping off petals of Lynn Anderson to prepare blooms for pollination, I noticed that one of the bloom's I was ripping off had petals that were definitely all striped, white and pink!
Another interesting thing about this, was that the part of the plant that had the striped bloom on it was just adjacent to a plant of Scentimental. Also, on examining the striped bloom, it was apparent that the form of the bloom was very different. It did not have the exhibition form of Lynn Anderson, but rather the loose form of Scentimental. Additionally, the foliage was a bit smaller than regular Lynn Anderson foliage.
This all got me to thinking. It was as if the branch was behaving in a way that might be predicted of a cross between Lynn Anderson and Scentimental.
I have not been totally satisfied with the inheritance pattern of striped roses. It seems dominant, but with some crosses there seem to be other factors that reduce the number of striped seedlings that would be predicted from a particular cross. I have read that many older striped roses were thought to be the result of somatic mutations, while others were thought to be virus induced.
Could it be that the striping in roses really is the effect of a virus that is primarily transmitted via pollen? Perhaps the "striping virus" usually only transmits the striping characteristic to the seedling embryo, and only very rarely breeches through the seed contained in the hip to "infect" the mother plant. There are certainly mammal models of viruses that transform animal cells so that the entire virus genome becomes incorporated into the animal's DNA. It may be then that the virus moves only very poorly through the mother plant so that what appears to be a spontaneous mutation in a branch exhibiting striped roses on a non-striped variety, is really a very rare infection by a "striping virus".
I did attempt to pollinate the striped bloom. If any seeds result, I will of course plant them to see whether the striping is transmitted. If the hip fails, I will try to graft all of the buds on the stem of the striped bloom.
Maybe it is just a fluke, but the coincidence of Scentimental being right next to where this "spontaneous mutation" developed, and the loose form of the striped bloom, which was much more characteristic of Scentimental than Lynn Anderson, led me to start speculating of the possible implications.
If striping in roses really is transmitted via virally transformed gametes it really doesn't matter. Striped roses are still very beautiful. The circumstantial evidence is certainly thought provoking.
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