Japanese scientists seem to have figured out a way to slow down the aging process dramatically, albeit only in flowers. They zeroed in on a gene in a variety of morning glory, shut it off, and, voila, the flower's blooms suddenly had twice the normal lifespan, reports AFP via Phys.org. "Unmodified flowers started withering 13 hours after they opened, but flowers that had been genetically modified stayed open for 24 hours," says a researcher at National Agriculture and Food Research Organization near Tokyo. The striking result: When new blooms opened in the morning, paler ones from the day before were alongside them.
Theoretically, the find "could help unravel secrets on how to prevent cell decay in other organisms," observes the Daily Mail, but for now the discovery is confined to the world of flowers. One possible real-world benefit is longer-lasting bouquets of cut flowers. The gene that got turned off is called Ephemeral1, and if scientists find something like it in other flowers such as lilies and tulips, they could apply a solution that suppresses the gene and prevents petals from aging. (Humans who want to keep their brains from aging might consider learning a new language.)