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Amino Acids In Nectar Enhance Butterfly Fecundity: A Long Awaited Link

Date:
February 23, 2005
Source:
University Of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
The fascinating interactions between flowers and their pollinators have resulted in a spectacular diversity of plants. In order to entice pollinators such as bees, flies or butterflies to visit and successfully pollinate their flowers, plants have evolved intriguing mechanisms and attractants, of which nectar is best known.
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The fascinating interactions between flowers and their pollinators have resulted in a spectacular diversity of plants. In order to entice pollinators such as bees, flies or butterflies to visit and successfully pollinate their flowers, plants have evolved intriguing mechanisms and attractants, of which nectar is best known.

Thirty years ago, researchers discovered that nectars of flowers pollinated by butterflies contain substantial amounts of amino acids. Recent experiments have shown that butterflies actually prefer nectars with a high amino acid content. These findings led to speculations about the significance of nectar amino acids for butterfly fitness and insinuated that butterflies have acted as agents of natural selection on nectar composition.

In order to determine whether butterflies actually need nectar amino acids, researchers from the University of Basel raised map butterfly caterpillars on both nitrogen poor and nitrogen rich stinging nettle. After the butterflies emerged, they were fed nectar with or without amino acids.

Butterflies raised under natural, nitrogen poor larval food conditions laid more eggs when fed nectar containing amino acids. These results provide the long missing evolutionary link between costly nectar amino acid production by plants, nectar preferences of and fitness benefits to butterflies.

This article by Jovanne Mevi-Schütz and Andreas Erhardt will appear in the April 2005 issue of The American Naturalist.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University Of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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University Of Chicago Press Journals. "Amino Acids In Nectar Enhance Butterfly Fecundity: A Long Awaited Link." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050222193949.htm>.
University Of Chicago Press Journals. (2005, February 23). Amino Acids In Nectar Enhance Butterfly Fecundity: A Long Awaited Link. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050222193949.htm
University Of Chicago Press Journals. "Amino Acids In Nectar Enhance Butterfly Fecundity: A Long Awaited Link." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050222193949.htm (accessed July 30, 2015).

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