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:1/15/2016)... Rico , Jan. 15, 2016 Recent ... and small to find new ways to ensure data ... iOS and Android that ... on biometrics, transforming it into a hardware authorization token. ... users swipe their fingerprint on their KodeKey enabled device ...
(Date:1/13/2016)... 13, 2016 ... of the  "India Biometrics Authentication & ... (2015-2020)"  report to their offering.  ... announced the addition of the  "India ... Estimation & Forecast (2015-2020)"  report ...
(Date:1/11/2016)... , Jan. 11, 2016  higi, the leading ... 10,000 retail locations, web and mobile, today announced ... million from existing investors. --> ... devoted to further innovate higi,s health platform – ... web portal – including expanding services and programs ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(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 , ... Curoverse announced today that ... Arvados provides capabilities for managing and processing genomic and health data at petabyte ... institutions collecting and analyzing genomic data,” said Adam Berrey chief executive officer at ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 09, 2016 , ... With a ... 2016 Wharton Health Care Business Conference will bring together over 500 top healthcare leaders ... an industry in transformation. The conference, organized by MBA students of the University of ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... February 09, 2016 , ... ... on its free and validated Electronic Data Capture (EDC) system ClinCaptureand its new ... Clinical Trials West Coast 2016 Conference in San Mateo, California on February 10th ...
Breaking Biology Technology: