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:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017 Research and Markets has announced ... & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their ... The ... CAGR of around 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately ... the market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... March 20, 2017 PMD Healthcare announces the ... and Wellness Management System (WMS), a remote, real-time lung ... 2010, PMD Healthcare is a Medical Device, Digital Health, ... dedicated to creating innovative solutions that empower people to ... intent focus, PMD developed the first ever personal spirometer, ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... England , March 7, 2017 Brandwatch , ... chosen by The Prince,s Trust to uncover insights to ... across The Trust. The UK,s leading youth charity will ... social campaign results and get a better understanding of the topics ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... ... supplier of Common Lisp (CL) development tools, and market leader for Semantic ... key performance enhancements now available within the most effective system for developing and ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... Covalent Metrology has ... Services unit provides high-quality data to clients, both faster and cheaper than ... There are no price premiums, and customers are welcome to participate in the ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... 21, 2017 , ... The 2017 Colorado Manufacturing Awards celebrates ... nominees and well as the first-year award for 2017 Manufacturing Women of the ... hosted by CompanyWeek and Manufacturers Edge, among other sponsors. , The Colorado ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... ... The AMA is happy to announce that $48,000 in scholarships will be awarded ... created through funds donated by model aviation organizations and individuals, AMA members, and a ... Committee, which is made up of model aviation pilots and enthusiasts. The committee evaluates ...
Breaking Biology Technology: