Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


First evidence of plants evolving weaponry to compete in the struggle for selection


Rutting stags and clawing bears are but two examples of male animals fighting over a mate, but research in New Phytologist has uncovered the first evidence of similar male struggles leading to the evolution of weaponry in plants.

The team, led by Dr. Andrea Cocucci from the Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biologia Vegetal of Argentina, studied a species of milkweed (Apocynaceae), found in tropical climates.

Oxypetalum solanoides

This is an example of the horned pollinaria found in South American milkweed.

Credit: Andrea Cocucci

While plants do not mate like animals, but rather reproduce via pollinators such as insects or birds, competition between individuals to exploit those pollinators can result in confrontation between the plants.

Milkweed reproduce by hooking sacs of pollen grains, known as pollinia, to the bodies of birds and other pollinators, which can be unwittingly dropped into another flower to complete pollination.

It is possible for multiple pollinarium to become entangled together due to the limited number of attachment points on the pollinator, and this Dr. Cocucci's team believe, is the source of confrontation.

The team studied the South America milkweed genus Oxypetalum and found horn-like structures on the pollinia sacs which have no obvious biological use. The paper suggests that these horns are used to prevent the sacs from being hooked together with pollinia from other parent plants.

"Our results suggest that neither self-propulsion nor well-developed sensory perception are required for sexual selection to take place through intrasexual struggles," said Dr. Cocucci.

"Apparently, only physical contact is enough to influence the mating success of competitors and to promote the evolution of defensive and attack weaponry."

Ben Norman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: attack confrontation flower genus pollinator selection sensory species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular trigger for Cerebral Cavernous Malformation identified
26.11.2015 | EMBO - excellence in life sciences

nachricht Peering into cell structures where neurodiseases emerge
26.11.2015 | University of Delaware

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Using sphere packing models to explain the structure of forests

26.11.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Dimensionality transition in a newly created material

26.11.2015 | Materials Sciences

Revealing glacier flow with animated satellite images

26.11.2015 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>