The Birth of Blue Chrysanthemums

Updated:August 8, 2017 (Tuesday)

The Institute of Vegetable and Floriculture Sciences, NARO in collaboration with Suntory Global Innovation Center Ltd., has succeeded in developing blue chrysanthemum. Genetic modification involving two genes associated with pigmentation resulted in the formation of flowers with blue petals. This result facilitates the expansion of flower color variation in chrysanthemum, increase the potential value of the flowers, and open possibilities and new applications that may contribute to the expansion of the flower industry.


  1. Chrysanthemum is an important flower which occupies 40% of the cut flower shipment in Japan. Although chrysanthemum flowers come in various colors such as yellow and red, flower colors such as blue violet or blue are not yet available so far, and development of blue chrysanthemum has always been desired. However, the development of blue chrysanthemum is quite difficult with conventional methods such as selective breeding because there are no closely related wild species with blue flowers.
  2. The Institute of Vegetable and Floriculture Sciences, NARO in collaboration with the Suntory Global Innovation Center Ltd. has pursued the development of blue chrysanthemum using genetic engineering technology. Up until 2013, chrysanthemum with 100% of the target pigment was developed by introducing a pigment gene from violet Canterbury bells flower, but the resulting flower was purple or violet in color. Succeeding studies were therefore aimed at developing a more vibrant blue color and resulted this time in the development of blue chrysanthemum.
  3. In this study, blue flower color of chrysanthemum was achieved by genetic modification with a gene derived from the blue-flowering butterfly pea in addition to the pigment gene from Canterbury bells used initially. The newly accumulated pigment in the petals due the coexpression of the two genes is violet in color, and eventually developed into a blue color by interacting with a colorless compound originally present in petals of chrysanthemum.
  4. Currently, NARO is developing blue chrysanthemums in various forms such as decorative blooming and pompon blooming chrysanthemums. Research towards reducing the risk of impact on biodiversity due to possible crossing with wild species is also being pursued in line with the prospect of domestic cultivation and commercialization of the blue chrysanthemums.
  5. Publication

    Noda N, Yoshioka S, Kishimoto S, Nakayama M, Duozono M, Tanaka Y, Aida R (2017) Generation of blue chrysanthemums by anthocyanin B-ring hydroxylation and glucosylation and its coloration mechanism. Science Advances 3:7, e1602785 Link here.

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    Reference Images

    These chrysanthemums are the first to be verified as 'true blue' based on the scale of the Royal Horticultural Society, the gold standard for flowers.

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