Faster blooming through genetic engineering?

Orchid producers have perked up at the news that a researcher in Singapore may have found a way to induce faster blooming through genetic engineering: NUS gene finding could help S’pore orchid trade bloom – JAN 13, 2004.

However, those in the know remain skeptical that it can be done. Tom Hillson writes on the Orchid Digest list:

“The big problem with this, is that you can not just take genetic techniques learned in one family of plants and transfer them to another family of plants. It is not that easy, I know, I worked twenty years in plant molecular biology doing lots of work on tissue culturing various plants. I could do lots of things with different plants that I could never repeat in Orchids. I could get protoplasts out of trees and get them to regenerate into whole plants. I never could get any growth or regenerations from orchid protoplast cultures. The largest problem is the same one lots of people see with orchid culture phenolic production. It would kill the cells every time.

I will give Prof Yu credit, he is a genus if he can do it. but I am very skeptical about his chances of success.”