Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Flowers’ Sophisticated Method Of Communication

Posted: February 24, 2013 by phaedrap1 in Science
Tags: ,

MessageToEagle.com – In one of our earlier articles, we described the life of plants, their incredible ability to learn, make music, dislike human noise and even communicate!

According to yet another study we learn much more about the mysterious life of flowers.

Flowers’ methods of communicating are at least as sophisticated as any devised by an advertising agency, according to a new study, published today in Science Express by researchers from the University of Bristol.

 


However, for any advert to be successful, it has to reach, and be perceived by, its target audience.

The research shows for the first time that pollinators such as bumblebees are able to find and distinguish electric signals given out by flowers.

Flowers often produce bright colours, patterns and enticing fragrances to attract their pollinators. Researchers at Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, led by Professor Daniel Robert, found that flowers also have their equivalent of a neon sign – patterns of electrical signals that can communicate information to the insect pollinator. These electrical signals can work in concert with the flower’s other attractive signals and enhance floral advertising power.

 

Plants are usually charged negatively and emit weak electric fields. On their side, bees acquire a positive charge as they fly through the air. No spark is produced as a charged bee approaches a charged flower, but a small electric force builds up that can potentially convey information.

By placing electrodes in the stems of petunias, the researchers showed that when a bee lands, the flower’s potential changes and remains so for several minutes.

Could this be a way by which flowers tell bees another bee has recently been visiting? To their surprise, the researchers discovered that bumblebees can detect and distinguish between different floral electric fields.

Also, the researchers found that when bees were given a learning test, they were faster at learning the difference between two colours when electric signals were also available.

How then do bees detect electric fields? This is not yet known, although the researchers speculate that hairy bumblebees bristle up under the electrostatic force, just like one’s hair in front of an old television screen.

 

Gerbera hybrida; bottom: Clematis armandii) showing a composite of immediately before and after application of charged powder paint. The pattern of powder deposition reveals the shape of the electric field.
The discovery of such electric detection has opened up a whole new understanding of insect perception and flower communication.

Dr Heather Whitney, a co-author of the study said: “This novel communication channel reveals how flowers can potentially inform their pollinators about the honest status of their precious nectar and pollen reserves.”

Professor Robert said: “The last thing a flower wants is to attract a bee and then fail to provide nectar: a lesson in honest advertising since bees are good learners and would soon lose interest in such an unrewarding flower.

“The co-evolution between flowers and bees has a long and beneficial history, so perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that we are still discovering today how remarkably sophisticated their communication is.”

 

 

 

© MessageToEagle.com

 

What do plants and humans have in common? Actually, more than most people realize.

Plants possess a number of amazing properties and they can “behave” similar to us.

Plants are very much alive. Not only do they dislike human noise but they also posses the capacity to learn and communicate. Perhaps even more astonishing is that plants can also make music and they can sing.

Plants can also sense danger and know exactly how to avoid predators.

In recent years, scientists have uncovered surprising biological connections between humans and other forms of life.Researchers have revealed that plant and human biology is much closer than has ever been understood and the study of these similarities could uncover the biological basis of diseases like cancer as well as other “animal” behaviors.

Not long ago, a group of researchers discovered that although plants are deaf they can feel, see, smell and remember

Now, according to a recent study plants can also be altruistic!

The researchers looked at corn, in which each fertilized seed contained two “siblings” — an embryo and a corresponding bit of tissue known as endosperm that feeds the embryo as the seed grows, said CU-Boulder Professor Pamela Diggle. They compared the growth and behavior of the embryos and endosperm in seeds sharing the same mother and father with the growth and behavior of embryos and endosperm that had genetically different parents.

Plants and humans can behave in a similar way!
“The results indicated embryos with the same mother and father as the endosperm in their seed weighed significantly more than embryos with the same mother but a different father,” said Diggle, a faculty member in CU-Boulder’s ecology and evolutionary biology department. “We found that endosperm that does not share the same father as the embryo does not hand over as much food — it appears to be acting less cooperatively.”

“One of the most fundamental laws of nature is that if you are going to be an altruist, give it up to your closest relatives,” said Friedman.

“Altruism only evolves if the benefactor is a close relative of the beneficiary. When the endosperm gives all of its food to the embryo and then dies, it doesn’t get more altruistic than that.”

In corn reproduction, male flowers at the top of the plants distribute pollen grains two at a time through individual tubes to tiny cobs on the stalks covered by strands known as silks in a process known as double fertilization. When the two pollen grains come in contact with an individual silk, they produce a seed containing an embryo and endosperm. Each embryo results in just a single kernel of corn, said Diggle.

Studies show plants can be altruisti.
The team took advantage of an extremely rare phenomenon in plants called “hetero-fertilization,” in which two different fathers sire individual corn kernels, said Diggle, currently a visiting professor at Harvard. The manipulation of corn plant genes that has been going on for millennia — resulting in the production of multicolored “Indian corn” cobs of various colors like red, purple, blue and yellow — helped the researchers in assessing the parentage of the kernels, she said.

Wu, who cultivated the corn and harvested more than 100 ears over a three-year period, removed, mapped and weighed every individual kernel out of each cob from the harvests. While the majority of kernels had an endosperm and embryo of the same color — an indication they shared the same mother and father — some had different colors for each, such as a purple outer kernel with yellow embryo.

Wu was searching for such rare kernels — far less than one in 100 — that had two different fathers as a way to assess cooperation between the embryo and endosperm.

“It was very challenging and time-consuming research,” said Friedman. “It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, or in this case, a kernel in a silo.”

Endosperm — in the form of corn, rice, wheat and other crops — is critical to humans, providing about 70 percent of calories we consume annually worldwide.

“The tissue in the seeds of flowering plants is what feeds the world,” said Friedman, who also directs the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard.

“If flowering plants weren’t here, humans wouldn’t be here.”

© MessageToEagle.com