Login

GPC Members Login
If you have any problems or have forgotten your login please contact [email protected]


Pollen stays on bee bodies right where flowers need it for pollination

After grooming, bees still have pollen on body parts that match the position of flower pollen-sacs and stigmas, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Petra Wester from Heinrich-Heine-University, Germany, and colleagues.

Flowers depend on pollen for pollination, and flower-visiting bees collect large quantities of pollen to feed their larvae. However, there has been little work on flower-pollinator interactions in view of this conflict over pollen. Field observations suggest that flower-visiting bees have residual patches of pollen after grooming, and it has been hypothesized that these ungroomed body parts serve as "safe sites" that transfer pollen from one flower to another.

Wester and colleagues tested this hypothesis with two experiments: one assessed bee grooming patterns, and the other assessed whether plants contact these safe sites on bees. In the first experiment, the researchers put individual Bombus terrestris bees and pollen grains in covered jars. As the bees flew, they stirred up the pollen grains and became evenly coated with pollen within minutes. After transferring the bees to clean jars and letting them groom themselves, the researchers counted the pollen grains that remained on safe sites. In the second experiment, the researchers put B. terrestris and Apis mellifera bees in indoor flight cages with flowers where the anthers and stigmas were marked with fluorescent dye. By observing the transfer of the dye to the bee, the authors could determine which areas touched the flowers' reproductive organs.

The researchers found that B. terrestris and A. mellifera had similar safe sites after grooming, and that these areas were less groomed by the bees' legs. In both bee species, the waist had the most pollen, followed by the dorsal parts of the thorax and abdomen. Importantly, the fluorescent dye experiment showed that the flowers contacted these same safe sites, allowing for pollen deposition by the anther and for pollen uptake by the stigma. These findings could help focus future studies on, for example, the morphological match between pollinators and flowers, as well as on strategies that both pollinators and flowers use to bypass the conflict over pollen.

For the first time, we experimentally demonstrated the position, area and pollen amount of so-called safe sites at the body of honeybees and bumblebees," says Wester. "We also showed that these specific body areas bees cannot groom are contacted by pollen-sacs and stigmas of several plant species, confirming the importance of the bees' safe sites."

Read the paper: To be on the safe site - Ungroomed spots on the bee's body and their importance for pollination.

Article source: PLOS.

Image credit: Petra Wester

News

Harvard forest report: Forests, funding, and conservation in decline across New England

New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day, according to a new report released by the Harvard Forest, a research institute of Harvard University, and a team of authors from across the region. Public funding for land protection has also been steadily declining in all six New England states and is now half what it was at its 2008 peak; with land conservation trends following suit.


Plant physiology: Adjusting to fluctuating temperatures

Later leaf emergence, earlier leaf loss: A new study of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich shows that the average vegetation periods of trees and shrubs in North America are intrinsically three weeks shorter than those of comparable species in Europe and Asia.


More mouths can be fed by boosting number of plant pores

Scientists at Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM), Nagoya University have synthesized a new bioactive small molecule that has the ability to increase stomata numbers on flowering plants without stunting their growth. The team’s new discovery could help elucidate the stomatal development mechanism in plants.