Navigation Links
Flowers' fragrance diminished by air pollution, University of Virginia study indicates
Date:4/10/2008

Air pollution from power plants and automobiles is destroying the fragrance of flowers and thereby inhibiting the ability of pollinating insects to follow scent trails to their source, a new University of Virginia study indicates. This could partially explain why wild populations of some pollinators, particularly bees which need nectar for food are declining in several areas of the world, including California and the Netherlands.

The study appears online in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

"The scent molecules produced by flowers in a less polluted environment, such as in the 1800s, could travel for roughly 1,000 to 1,200 meters; but in today's polluted environment downwind of major cites, they may travel only 200 to 300 meters," said Jose D. Fuentes, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and a co-author of the study. "This makes it increasingly difficult for pollinators to locate the flowers."

The result, potentially, is a vicious cycle where pollinators struggle to find enough food to sustain their populations, and populations of flowering plants, in turn, do not get pollinated sufficiently to proliferate and diversify.

Other studies, as well as the actual experience of farmers, have shown that populations of bees, particularly bumblebees, and butterflies have declined greatly in recent years. Fuentes and his team of U.Va. researchers, including Quinn McFrederick and James Kathilankal, believe that air pollution, especially during the peak period of summer, may be a factor.

To investigate this, they created a mathematical model of how the scents of flowers travel with the wind. The scent molecules produced by flowers are very volatile and they quickly bond with pollutants such as ozone, hydroxyl and nitrate radicals, which destroy the aromas they produce. This means that instead of traveling intact for long distances with the wind, the scents are chemically altered and the flowers, in a sense, no longer smell like flowers. This forces pollinators to search farther and longer and possibly to rely more on sight and less on smell.

The scientists calculated scent levels and distances that scents can travel under different conditions, from relatively unpolluted pre-industrial revolution levels, to the conditions now existing in rural areas downwind from large cities.

"It quickly became apparent that air pollution destroys the aroma of flowers, by as much as 90 percent from periods before automobiles and heavy industry," Fuentes said. "And the more air pollution there is in a region, the greater the destruction of the flower scents."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jose Fuentes
jf6s@virginia.edu
434-982-2654
University of Virginia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Warmer springs mean less snow, fewer flowers in the Rockies
2. Vitamin B-12 function may be diminished by excessive folate
3. Pitt and University of Chicago researchers uncover process behind heart muscle contraction
4. Yale Universitys Strobel recognized for work on RNA
5. Womens health-related scientific findings presented by University of Pittsburgh researchers
6. Researchers at Stockholm University awarded the Descartes prize
7. Policing cells demand ID to tell friend from foe, say University of Pennsylvania cell engineers
8. Antarcticas coldest, darkest season draws Montana State University researchers
9. University of Colorado at Boulder awarded $1 million for biofuels research
10. Viruses evolve to play by host rules, according to University of Pennsylvania researchers
11. New whitepaper offers options for university implementation of NIH policy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/23/2017)... , Mar. 23, 2017 Research and ... System Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" ... ... grow at a CAGR of around 8.8% over the next decade ... industry report analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for all the ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... 2017 At this year,s CeBIT Chancellor Dr. ... DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the DERMALOG stand together with the Japanese ... CeBIT partner country. At the largest German biometrics company the two government ... and iris recognition as well as DERMALOG´s multi-biometrics system.   ... ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... March 9, 2017 4Dx has publicly released ... Imaging Workshop at the University of Pennsylvania. Founder and ... deliver the latest data to world leaders in lung ... together leaders at the forefront of the industry to ... "The quality of the imaging is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... April 20, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences , the leading risk ... industries, is pleased to announce Holger Braemer as Vice President of its ... based in Germany. , Braemer is an integral part of USDM’s expansion of ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Parallel6™ , the leader in mClinical™ technologies for improving ... named one of the 2017 Top 10 eClinical Trial Management Solution Providers by ... , “We take pride in honoring Parallel6 as one of the top 10 companies ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... ... The Vibrating Orifice Aerosol Generator (VOAG) was developed in ... known diameters for research applications such as for calibrating droplet measuring instruments, for ... , The VOAG requires forcing liquid out of an orifice about half ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... April 19, 2017 , ... ... A-1 financing round. This event adds to several other early achievements at ThermaGenix, ... and Scientific Teams. , ThermaGenix will use proceeds from the Series ...
Breaking Biology Technology: