Navigation Links
Blowing in the wind: How hidden flower features are crucial for bees
Date:5/28/2012

As gardeners get busy filling tubs and borders with colourful bedding plants, scientists at the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol have discovered more about what makes flowers attractive to bees rather than humans. Published today in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, their research reveals that Velcro-like cells on plant petals play a crucial role in helping bees grip flowers especially when the wind gets up.

The study focuses on special cells found on the surface of petals, whose stunning structure is best seen under an electron microscope. According to lead author, Dr Beverley Glover: "Many of our common garden flowers have beautiful conical cells if you look closely roses have rounded conical petal cells while petunias have really long cells, giving petunia flowers an almost velvety appearance, particularly visible in the dark-coloured varieties."

Glover's group previously discovered that when offered snapdragons with conical cells and a mutant variety without these cells, bees prefer the former because the conical cells help them grip the flower. "It's a bit like Velcro, with the bee claws locking into the gaps between the cells," she explains.

Compared with many garden flowers, however, snapdragons have very complicated flowers; bees have to land on a vertical face and pull open a heavy lip to reach the nectar so Glover was not surprised that grip helps. But she wanted to discover how conical cells help bees visiting much simpler flowers.

"Many of our garden flowers like petunias, roses and poppies are very simple saucers with nectar in the bottom, so we wanted to find out why having conical cells to provide grip would be useful for bees landing on these flowers. We hypothesised that maybe the grip helped when the flowers blow in the wind."

Using two types of petunia, one with conical cells and a mutant line with flat cells, Glover let a group of bumblebees that had never seen petunias before forage in a large box containing both types of flower, and discovered they too preferred the conical-celled flowers.

They then devised a way of mimicking the way flowers move in the wind. "We used a lab shaking platform that we normally use to mix liquids, and put the flowers on that. As we increased the speed of shaking, mimicking increased wind speed, the bees increased their preference for the conical-celled flowers," she says.

The results, Glover says, give ecologists a deeper insight into the extraordinarily subtle interaction between plant and pollinator. "Nobody knew what these cells were for, and now we have a good answer that works for pretty much all flowers," she concludes. "It's is too easy to look at flowers from a human perspective, but when you put yourself into the bee's shoes you find hidden features of flowers can be crucial to foraging success."
'/>"/>

Contact: Beverley Glover
bjg26@cam.ac.uk
44-012-233-33938
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Agricultural bacteria: Blowing in the wind
2. Life on the wind: Study reveals how microbes travel the Earth
3. Gone with the wind: Far-flung pine pollen still potent miles from the tree
4. Elephant seal tracking reveals hidden lives of deep-diving animals
5. First satellite tag study for manta rays reveals habits and hidden journeys of ocean giants
6. Hidden in plain sight, concrete holds a strange history
7. Medical researchers in Canada and the US discover hidden side of prion diseases
8. Glowing beacons reveal hidden order in dynamical systems
9. Vast hidden network regulates gene expression in cancer
10. Engineering team heads to Antarctica to explore hidden lake
11. Hidden soil fungus, now revealed, is in a class all its own
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/17/2017)... -- NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ... 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on Thursday April 13, 2017 ... ... Investor Relations section of the Company,s website at http://www.nxt-id.com  under ... http://www.sec.gov . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... BROOKLYN, N.Y. , April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ... identical fingerprints, but researchers at the New York ... University College of Engineering have found that partial ... fingerprint-based security systems used in mobile phones and ... previously thought. The vulnerability lies in ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... -- KEY FINDINGS The global market for ... of 25.76% during the forecast period of 2017-2025. The ... the growth of the stem cell market. ... INSIGHTS The global stem cell market is segmented on ... stem cell market of the product is segmented into ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... California (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. ... speaking at his local San Diego Rotary Club. The event entitled ... Diego, CA and had 300+ attendees. Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... business process optimization firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a ... in San Francisco. , The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... , ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature 3 Bar Biologics ... at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ten billion people ... to feed a growing nation. At the same time, many of our valuable resources ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... San Antonio, Texas (PRWEB) , ... ... ... a new study published on October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, ... demonstrated equivalence with the gold standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: