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Lilacs Bloom in January!

The scent of spring is in the air, but only in Belgorod State University's Botanical Garden Laboratories

Scientists and lab workers are continuing the work they started last year with the 'Belgorod Lilac Project', with a Winter Distillation program aimed at testing the limits of the specialist genetic modification equipment at their disposal. The Polymerase Chain Reaction Analyser is key to the process, according to Dr Mikhail Tretyakov, Head of the Genetics Laboratory. It allows qualitative and quantitative analysis of nucleic acids and genotyping, which determines whether it is possible to fix certain genes as a result of hybridisation, and therefore create a new plant. He explained,

We are working on simultaneous ideas. We are trying to increase the duration of flowering, while attempting to breed varieties that change the colour of their foliage, so that by the autumn our gardens and parks will be ablaze with their brightness, beauty and diversity. A winter bloom, while impressive, is not as difficult as you might think. It involves moving the plant to successively colder then warmer rooms, tricking the plant into thinking it is spring, and then reproducing a spring shower. This opens the leaf, then produces buds which will flower, provided the plant is kept at 15-20C.

 Translated by I P Turner, Centre for Foreign Language and Academic Writing

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