Flower colour is traditionally viewed as a method by which a plant advertises its nectar, a sweet reward for ensuring pollination, to hungry insects.
However, a recent collaborative study by the University of Cambridge and Queen Mary University London has revealed that bees will choose flowers of a certain colour if they have learned that it indicates warmth as well.
Dr Heather Whitney, Miss Sarah Arnold, Dr Adrian Dyer and Dr Beverley Glover, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, and Professor Lars Chittka, Queen Mary University London, published their findings in this week's issue of Nature.
Dr Whitney stated, "It has been observed that flowers with warming structures attract basking insects, and previous work has shown that insects can obtain a metabolic reward from warmer flowers. However, this is the first time it has been shown that insects can use other cues, such as colour, to preferentially seek out warmer flowers."
These findings indicate that varying temperatures of plants may be an adaptation to encourage pollinators to visit flowers. As flower temperature varies widely, it is believed that the heat may influence which plant the pollinator chooses to visit (depending on the insect's temperature preference).
Like many other insect pollinators, bumblebees invest energy in keeping their body temperature above the ambient level. On cold days, they must warm themselves up before they can fly far. Researchers discovered that, in an effort to conserve energy, bees will select warmer flowers identified by their colour to stay cosy. When tested, bumblebees consistently chose warmer flowers over cooler flowers containing the same nectar reward.
Dr Glover stated, "We're very excited by this result as it suggests that a whole range of structures act as potential pollinator attractants. We can now re-evaluate the roles of lens-shaped petal cells, sun-tracking by flowers, light and heat absorbing pigments and specialised surface structures, all of which may be part of a plant's bag of tricks for attracting pollinators."
Genevieve Maul | EurekAlert!
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Information Technology
05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences