Navigation Links
Scientists discover why buttercups reflect yellow on chins
Date:12/13/2011

Scientists have found that the distinctive glossiness of the buttercup flower (Ranunculus repens), which children like to shine under the chin to test whether their friends like butter, is related to its unique anatomical structure. Their findings were published today, 14 December, in the Royal Society journal Interface.

The researchers discovered that the buttercup petal's unique bright and glossy appearance is the result of the interplay between its different layers. In particular, the strong yellow reflection responsible for the chin illumination is mainly due to the epidermal layer of the petal that reflects yellow light with an intensity that is comparable to glass.

Scientists have been interested in how the buttercup flower works for over a century. They have previously shown that the reflected colour is yellow due to the absorption of the colours in the blue-green region of the spectrum by the carotenoid pigment in the petals. As the blue-green light is absorbed, the light in the other spectral regions (in this case, primarily yellow) is reflected. It has also been known for many years that the epidermal layer of the petals is composed of very flat cells, providing strong reflection.

This new study shows how the buttercup's exceptionally bright appearance is a result of a special feature of the petal structure. The epidermal layer of cells has not one but two extremely flat surfaces from which light is reflected. One is the top of the cells, the other exists because the epidermis is separated from the lower layers of the petal by an air gap. Reflection of light by the smooth surface of the cells and by the air layer effectively doubles the gloss of the petal, explaining why buttercups are so much better at reflecting light under your chin than any other flower.

The researchers also found that the buttercup reflects a significant amount of UV light. As many pollinators, including bees, have eyes sensitive in the UV region, this provides insight into how the buttercup uses its unique appearance to attract insects.

Dr Silvia Vignolini, from the University of Cambridge's Department of Physics (Cavendish Laboratory), explained the importance of the buttercup's unique appearance: "Although many different factors, such as scent and temperature, influence the relationships between pollinators and flowers, the visual appearance of flowers is one of the most important factors in this communication. Flowers develop brilliant colour, or additional cues, such as glossiness - in the case of the buttercup - that contribute to make the optical response of the flower unique. Moreover, the glossiness might also mimic the presence of nectar droplets on the petals, making them that much more attractive."

Dr Beverley Glover, Department of Plant Sciences, said: "This phenomenon has intrigued scientists and laymen alike for centuries. Our research provides exciting insight into not only a children's game but also into the lengths to which flowers will go to attract pollinators."

Professor Ulli Steiner, from the Nanophotonics Centre at the Cavendish Laboratory, the University of Cambridge's Department of Physics, said: "It is fun to revisit a problem that is more than one century old and, using modern methods, discover something new. The strong collaboration between Physics and the Plant Sciences has enabled this."


'/>"/>

Contact: Genevieve Maul
Genevieve.maul@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-122-376-5542
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists forecast crops that adapt to changing weather
2. Wheat cant stop Hessian flies, so scientists find reinforcements
3. Babies born with no eyes: Scientists identify genetic cause
4. Max Planck Florida Institute scientists create first realistic 3D reconstruction of a brain circuit
5. UCSB scientists make advances in neuroscience and vision research
6. Scientists discover how brain corrects bumps to body
7. Scientists rediscover rarest US bumblebee
8. EMBO awards Installation Grants to 7 European scientists
9. Singapore and China scientists perform first Asian genome-wide association study on spine disease
10. AGU meeting: Stanford scientists subject rocks to hellish conditions to combat global warming
11. Some atheist scientists with children embrace religious traditions, according to new Rice research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/17/2017)... Florida , April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, ... technology company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on ... and Exchange Commission. ... on Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section of ... as on the SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... BEACH GARDENS, Fla. , April 11, 2017 ... identity management and secure authentication solutions, today announced ... contract by Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) ... for IARPA,s Thor program. "Innovation has ... onset and IARPA,s Thor program will allow us ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... -- NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ:   NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... of independent Directors Mr. Robin D. Richards and ... furthering the company,s corporate governance and expertise. ... Gino Pereira , Chief Executive Officer ... guidance and benefiting from their considerable expertise as we move ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... As the ... among healthcare industry stakeholders, the discussion surrounding the topic will continue at WEDI ... 2017 in Los Angeles, Calif. Hosted by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... April 25, 2017 Providence ... licensed its novel immune-modulating technology to an undisclosed global ... allergy. Tregitopes, pronounced TĀ·rejĀ·itopes, are a ... by EpiVax CEO Annie De Groot ... immunoglobulin G, an autoimmune disease therapy, Tregitopes are ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... NEW YORK , April 24, 2017  Dante Labs ... interpretation at only EUR 850 (ca. $900). While American individuals ... marks the first time Europeans can access WGS below EUR ... which are crucial to leveraging genetic information to make informed ... more. ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... The AMA is happy to ... graduates from across the nation. The scholarships are created through funds donated by model ... Scholarship criteria are set by the AMA Scholarship Committee, which is made up of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: