Navigation Links
Sundews just want to be loved
Date:8/17/2010

Sex can be complicated at the best of times, but plants have an extra difficulty. If you're a plant who relies on insects to pollinate your flowers and reproduce, you will want your flowerstalks to be long. That way your flowers are on display to insects above the crowd. But if your stalk is too long, you'll stand out to herbivores, and you flower will end up as someone's lunch. It used to be thought that carnivorous plants like Sundews had the opposite problem. They reproduce better if they avoid eating insects that pollinate them, so a long stalk prevents an unfortunate meal. Simply looking at a plant, it's impossible to tell if the stalks evolved for sex or safety, but Bruce Anderson at the University of Stellenbosch has now found an answer to be published in the October issue of the Annals of Botany.

He examined two Sundews, Drosera cistiflora, which has a long stalk above its rosette of traps and Drosera pauciflora, which is more upright and has a shorter flower stalk. Both plants attract the same pollinators, so Anderson reasoned if a longer stalk is safer, D. pauciflora should accidentally catch more pollinators in its traps. To test his idea he observed the pollination of 500 plants of each species. Then he examined a sample of the traps to see what they had caught. Anderson said: "The pollinators all tended to be quite large, over 5mm. Most of them were monkey beetles. But the traps had a different catch. It's harder to say what many of them were exactly, because the Sundews left their bodies in poor condition, but they were small. Most were less than 2mm long. Only one plant had caught a pollinator. Statistically the length of the flower stems made no difference to the safety of the pollinators."

"But just because the stems didn't affect safety, it doesn't automatically follow that the other explanation, attracting pollinators, must be right by default. So I tested that too."

Flowers were cut from D. pauciflora and placed in test tubes. Some were set so the flowers were at normal height, while the other test tubes were buried so that the flower was barely above ground level. Anserson said: "Doing this meant there were few variables in the experiment. The flowers were identical. The only difference was their height. This way it's possible to simulate how well a Sundew that hadn't evolved a long stem could attract insects."

The results were emphatic. The taller flowers had ten times the number of visitors than the short flowers.

Anderson said: "There have been a few people who've suggested that the flower stalks are for attracting pollinators. However, the standard explanation in most textbooks is that the stems are to protect pollinators. It's a good story. It sounds like the kind of elegant solution that evolution comes up with. Now we have the hard data from these experiments and it shows that explanation is wrong. It's not about food, it's about sex. Sundews want to improve their chances of pollination and maximise their reproductive success."


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. David Frost
annalsbotany@le.ac.uk
44-116-252-3396
Oxford University Press
Source:Eurekalert

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/29/2017)... CHICAGO , March 29, 2017  higi, the ... ecosystem in North America , today ... Partners and the acquisition of EveryMove. The new investment ... extensive set of tools to transform population health activities ... and lifestyle data. higi collects and secures ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... , March 24, 2017 The Controller General of ... Mr. Abdulla Algeen have received the prestigious international IAIR Award ... Continue Reading ... ... and Deputy Controller Abdulla Algeen (small picture on the right) have received ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Vehicle Anti-Theft ... 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately $14.21 billion by ... and forecasts for all the given segments on global as well ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/16/2017)... OH (PRWEB) , ... August 16, 2017 , ... ... a beneficial microbe delivery system, announced it has secured $2M in funding from ... Queen City Angels, Carmen Innovations, and SVG Thrive Fund. With this investment, 3Bar ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... and OXFORD, England , Aug. 16, 2017 ... for biotech executive search and leadership development, and Virdis Group, ... have created an exclusive alliance that enables clients to leverage ... "For our clients here in the ... access to a diverse population of leadership talent throughout the ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... August 15, 2017 , ... Nanomedical Diagnostics , ... development, announces the launch of the new NHS Agile biosensor chip . ... data for a wide range of molecules, including small and large molecules, peptides, ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Kenall, a leader in sealed solid-state lighting, ... sealed and perform efficiently for years. The downlights are ideal for a variety ... such as: hospitals; behavioral health facilities; cleanrooms; containment areas; food and pharmaceutical processing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: