Developmental and Genetic Changes Involved in Floral Organ Abscission in Delphinium

Floriculture is a multibillion-dollar branch of agriculture that is integral to the economy in numerous countries. The cut flower industry experiences heavy losses in products due to organ shedding. Organ shedding is initiated due to a highly regulated process, which originates with the formation of a detachment or abscission zone. Abscission zone cells in floral organs secrete enzymes to digest the cell walls of adjacent cells. These molecules degrade the middle lamella, which joins adjacent cells. This ultimately leads to the loss of the organ. Delphinium sheds its floral organs just four days after being harvested, making it difficult to ship it to long distances and to sell it outside of localized markets. This project seeks to investigate abscission zone development in floral organs of delphinium flowers using a combination of histological, microscopy, and genomic techniques. Developmental studies will provide a better understanding of the critical points in abscission zone formation in Delphinium flowers, transcriptome analysis at various developmental points will be used to understand the genetic basis of abscission. Results from this data can serve as a foundation for producing Delphinium with delayed abscission activity and thus a longer shelf life after harvesting, without the use of ectopically applied chemicals which still have questionable environmental impacts.