Photo by Yoram Aschheim
Hebrew University Professor, Alexander Vainstein, is changing the way we see the world around us and making it more colorful in the process. The Wolfson Family Professor of Floriculture is most known for genetically modifying tobacco to produce the natural compound used in the anti-malaria medication, artemisinin. His recent work is making the world more attractive as he has discovered a way to change the colors of flowers.
Vainstein successfully changed the color of the traditionally white baby breath flowers to a range of red and pink colors after he and his team identified what part of the flowers biochemical makeup left it colorless. They then added genes from other flowers and altered its genetic makeup, allowing the flowers to retain beautiful and diverse colors.
This ground breaking research was sold to the floral company, Imaginature, and the genetically modified flowers won the gold medal in the international FlowersExpo in Moscow this year. With these flowers blossomed endless firsts, both for Israel and the world as they are the first genetically modified flowers to be approved in Israel, the first Israeli flower to participate in and then, win the competition.
When asked about his many achievements and what these beautiful flowers have to offer us Vainstein spoke like a true educator, "This discovery was made with my students and our joint success will help create a new generation of agricultural researchers in Israel.
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