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:4/11/2017)... N.Y. , April 11, 2017 ... fingerprints, but researchers at the New York University ... College of Engineering have found that partial similarities ... security systems used in mobile phones and other ... thought. The vulnerability lies in the ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... -- Today HYPR Corp. , leading innovator in ... the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® Certified . ... that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 enterprises and ... 15 million users across the financial services industry, however ... suites and physical access represent a growing portion of ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... ANGELES , March 30, 2017  On April ... Hack the Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s ... exciting two-day competition will focus on developing health and ... Hack the Genome is the ... been tremendous. The world,s largest companies in the genomics, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... DuPont Pioneer and recently formed ... entered into a multiyear collaboration to identify and characterize novel CRISPR-Cas nucleases. The ... gene editing across all applications. , Under the terms of the agreement, Pioneer ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... Surgical Wound Market with the addition of its newest module, US Hemostats & ... market for thrombin hemostats, absorbable hemostats, fibrin sealants, synthetic sealants and biologic sealants ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... analysis platform specifically designed for life science researchers to analyze and interpret ... Rosalind Franklin, who made a major contribution to the discovery of the ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... The ... endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of exogenous expression plasmids. ... is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This complement to loss-of-function ...
Breaking Biology Technology: