Prof. Herrera said: "No one has paid much attention to the corollas, collections of petals on a flower, when they shrivel. Their job is done, so it's no surprise they die. But if their job is done, why don't the petals simply drop off the plant? I thought there might be an advantage that kept the old corollas on the plant."
To test his idea, Herrera conducted a very simple experiment. He removed dead petals from some lavender. Then he observed what happened to the seeds.
Prof. Herrera said: "The results for the lavender were striking. Normally you'd expect around 60% of the lavender fruits to ripen. Without the withered petals around the fruit, only 40% ripened. The dead petals seem to have formed a protective barrier around the fruit. In this case the barrier helps prevent attack by gnat larvae who like to feed on lavender seeds."
He also tried the same experiment with some violas, but got a different result.
"For violas I found that the petals helped increase the number of seeds per fruit, but had no effect on ripening. It's clear that the petals are doing something important for the plant after they decay, but it is a complex relationship that needs more study. Still, it shows there is a major role for petals to play on a plant, even after the bloom of youth has gone."
Photos by Prof Herrera can be downloaded from: http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/565860/1/Herrera?h=6137fd
Note for Editors: Prof. Herrera's research is published as "The results are published as "Marcescent corollas as functional structures: effects on the fecundity of two insect-pollinated plants" in the Annals of Botany. doi:10.1093/aob/mcq160 which will be online from the 24th of September 2010.
Prof. Herrera can be contacted at: email@example.comThe Annals of Botany is a monthly journal covering all areas of Plant Science.
Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
23.02.2017 | American Chemical Society
New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer
23.02.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences
23.02.2017 | Life Sciences