Navigation Links
Landing lights for bumblebees
Date:10/11/2010

Gardeners could help maintain bumblebee populations by growing plants with red flowers or flowers with stripes along the veins, according to field observations of the common snapdragon, Antirrhinum majus, at the John Innes Centre in the UK.

Bees are important pollinators of crops as well as the plants in our gardens. The John Innes Centre, an institute of the BBSRC, is committed to research that can benefit agriculture and the environment.

"Stripes following the veins of flowers are one of the most common floral pigmentation patterns so we thought there must be some advantage for pollination," said Professor Cathie Martin from JIC.

Nuffield scholars spent successive summers observing the foraging patterns of bumblebees on snapdragon plants grown on a plot near Norwich. The students compared the number of visits by bumblebees to various cultivars of the common snapdragon and the number of flowers visited per plant. Red flowers and those with venation patterning were visited significantly more frequently than white or pink. More flowers were visited per plant too.

"Stripes provide a visual guide for pollinators, directing them to the central landing platform and the entrance to the flower where the nectar and pollen can be found," said Professor Martin.

"We examined the origin of this trait and found that it has been retained through snapdragon ancestry. The selection pressure for this trait is only relaxed when full red pigmentation evolves in a species."

Bumblebees are the main pollinators for snapdragon because the of the bee is needed to open the closed flower. Pollinators learn and memorize floral signals, such as flower shape, scent, colour and patterns of pigmentation. They return to flowers from which they have previously found food. Simple changes due to single gene changes can have dramatic effects on which pollinators visit and how often.

Collaborators on the project from New Zealand also analysed how the stripy patterns are formed along the veins of the common snapdragon. They showed that two signals interact to create the stripes.

"Complex colour patterns such as spots and stripes are common in nature but the way they are formed is poorly understood," said author Dr Kathy Schwinn from the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research.

"We found that one signal comes from the veins of the petals and one from the skin of the petals, the epidermis. Where these signals intersect, the production of red anthocyanin pigments is induced."

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC, which part-funded this research through strategic funding to JIC, said: "Pollinator insects, such as honeybees, have a highly significant role in agriculture and any reduction in numbers is economically damaging and risks our food security. Much of the food on our plates is reliant on insect pollination. BBSRC is investing in research to understand how we can arrest pollinator decline and this study shows how horticulturalists and gardeners can encourage bumblebee populations."


'/>"/>

Contact: Andrew Chapple
andrew.chapple@bbsrc.ac.uk
44-016-032-51490
Norwich BioScience Institutes
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Final moments of bee landing tactics revealed
2. 2010 AAO-HNSF new research highlights: Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010
3. 2010 AAO-HNSF new research daily highlights: Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010
4. July 2010 Geology and GSA Today highlights
5. 5-year report highlights status of Washingtons forest resources
6. Symposium spotlights new paradigms in genomics, celebrates AIDS-fighting drug at 25 years
7. ArounderTouch: A First-Class Ticket to Your Flights of Fancy
8. Selected highlights of the research being presented at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting
9. Study highlights forest protected areas as a critical strategy for slowing climate change
10. Society of Interventional Radiology highlights medical advances, new discoveries
11. Study highlights sustainable footprint of chemical companies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/3/2016)... Feb. 3, 2016 Vigilant Solutions announces today ... in Missouri solved two recent ... (LPR) data from Vigilant Solutions. Brian Wenberg ... which the victim was walking out of a convenience store and witnessed an ... to his vehicle, striking his vehicle and leaving the ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... 2016 This BCC Research report provides ... reviewing the recent advances in high throughput ‘omic ... field forward. Includes forecast through 2019. ... and opportunities that exist in the bioinformatic market. ... as well as IT and bioinformatics service providers. ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016   Parabon NanoLabs ... the U.S. Army Research Office and the Defense ... and sensitivity of the company,s Snapshot Kinship ... Mission and, more generally, defense-related DNA forensics.  Although ... capabilities (predicting appearance and ancestry from DNA evidence), ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 10, ... ... REGN) today announced that it has joined the Human Vaccines Project, a ... infectious diseases and cancer. , The Human Vaccines Project brings together ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... HOLLOWAY AMERICA, ... Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) Rocky Mountain Chapter 21st Annual Vendor Exhibition on Thursday, February ... than 100 tables for its annual event, which will run from 3:00 p.m. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... has announced a new agreement with Singapore-based Global Stem Cells Network (GSCN) and ... Philippines, Thailand and Singapore in the latest adipose and bone marrow therapies. ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... Date and time: ... Institute at the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County, 3805 Old Easton Road, ... College (TCMC) will hold an open house for participants to learn about a ...
Breaking Biology Technology: