Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bees Can Be More Important Than Fertilizer

10.06.2014

Experiment confirms that insects play a key role in the pollination of cultivated plants

A lack of bees and other wild insects to pollinate crop plants can reduce harvest yields more drastically than a lack of fertilizer or a failure to provide the crops with sufficient water.


A bee of the genus Panurginus leaves an almond blossom in Northern California.

Photo: Alexandra-Maria Klein

When crops are adequately pollinated, on the other hand, the plants bear more fruit and their nutrient content changes. These are the findings of an experiment on almond trees conducted in California by the Freiburg ecologist Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein and her colleagues from the USA.

The team published articles presenting their findings in the journals Plant Biology and PLoS ONE. Alexandra-Maria Klein will receive the 25,000-euro CULTURA Prize on Tuesday, 17 June 2014, for this and other research projects on the importance of insects for the pollination of crop plants. Conferred by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation, the prize recognizes European scientists for innovative and exemplary research approaches in the areas of nature conservation, agriculture and forestry, and related sciences.

Together with students and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, Alexandra Klein manipulated almond trees by preventing bees from pollinating blossoms with the help of cages, allowing the bees to pollinate the blossoms, or pollinating them by hand. In addition, the researchers watered and fertilized trees in accordance with local practices or gave them only little water or no fertilizer.

In the case of several almond trees, they combined the various manipulations in order to study in isolation and in combination the effects on harvest yield and the composition of nutrients in the nuts. The almond trees that were pollinated by hand produced the most nuts, but they were also very small.

By contrast, a tree that was left unpollinated hardly produced any nuts at all – but the few that it did produce were very large. The yield of the trees pollinated by bees was roughly 200 percent higher than that of self-pollinatedtrees.

Fertilization and watering only had an effect on harvest yield in combination with the pollination manipulations. However, the inadequately watered trees lost more leaves, and the leaves of the unfertilized trees increasingly turned yellow.

This led the scientists to the conclusion that an almond tree can compensate for a lack of nutrients and water in the short term by directing stored nutrients and water to the fruits but cannot compensate for insufficient pollination. Furthermore, the scientists demonstrated that the composition of nutrients differs depending on the pollination mode: Nuts from the self-pollinated trees contained a lower proportion of linoleic acid but a higher proportion of vitamin E.

Original publications:

  • Klein, A.M., Hendrix, S.D., Clough, Y., Scofield, A., Kremen, C. 2014. Interacting effects of pollination, water and nutrients on fruit tree performance. Plant Biology, online first, DOI:10.1111/plb.12180
  • Brittain, C., Kremen, C., Garber, A., Klein, A.M. 2014. Pollination and plant resources change the nutritional quality of almonds for human health. PLoS ONE 9: e90082. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0090082

Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein | University of Freiburg
Further information:
http://www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/2014/pm.2014-06-10.50-en?set_language=en

Further reports about: Biology Conservation Ecology Foundation Plant agriculture composition crop crops fertilizer

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>