Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nectar reduction in Petunia: it doesn't pay to cheat

Date:
July 19, 2010
Source:
University of Bern
Summary:
A researcher in Switzerland has bred a new line of petunia that produces significantly more seeds and less nectar than normal petunia. The downside of these positive changes is that pollinators spend less time visiting petunias that offer less nectar, which results in a lower seed production. The work shows that the cost-benefit ratio for the plant remains neutral.

A researcher working at the universities of Neuchβtel and Bern has bred a new line of petunia that produces significantly more seeds and less nectar than normal petunia. The downside of these positive changes is that pollinators spend less time visiting petunias that offer less nectar, which results in a lower seed production. This work, which was conducted by Anna Brandenburg with the support of the NCCR Plant Survival, showed that the cost-benefit ratio for the plant remains neutral.

She will present her results at the International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE) congress at the end of July in Tours (France).

In many relationships between plants and pollinators, nectar plays a central role as a reward to the pollinator for its efforts. However, some plant species, such as certain orchid, do not provide nectar in return. With this strategy, the plant saves energy resources that can instead be invested in growth or defence mechanisms. For her PhD thesis Anna Brandenburg tested this nectar reduction hypothesis on cultivated plants with the aim of increasing the plant's reproductive success. Her work was co-supervised by Redouan Bshary (University of Neuchβtel) and Cris Kuhlemeier (University of Bern).

She studied the impact of nectar reduction in petunia on its pollinators. Petunia is an interesting plant from an application perspective since it belongs to the same family, the Solanaceae, as the potato and tomato.

For her research, she first had to develop a new approach to obtain a petunia line that was clearly different in its nectar production than the original species Petunia axillaris. After multiple crosses between P. axillaris and P. integrifolia, the young biologist was able to produce a line that offered one third of the nectar volume of P. axillaris.

With the use of hand pollination, Anna Brandenburg observed two beneficial effects of nectar reduction. The petunias with this characteristic produced 20 to 30% more seeds than P. axillaris. Furthermore, still in comparison with the same species, the new petunia line emitted two times more methylbenzoate, an odorous substance that plays a role in attracting hawkmoth pollinators to the flower. A possible positive effect on pollinator attraction still needs to be verified since odours in greenhouses were saturated.

Everything changes, however, as soon as natural pollinators come into play. The hawkmoth Manduca sexta spends considerably less time feeding on flowers offering a smaller nectar reward, hence diminishing pollen transfer, which consequently results in a significant reduction in the quantity of seeds produced. This study shows that the hawkmoths are able to recognise plants that cheat, an innate ability, as demonstrated in subsequent tests.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bern. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bern. "Nectar reduction in Petunia: it doesn't pay to cheat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713091439.htm>.
University of Bern. (2010, July 19). Nectar reduction in Petunia: it doesn't pay to cheat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713091439.htm
University of Bern. "Nectar reduction in Petunia: it doesn't pay to cheat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713091439.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) — A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) — A fox attacked a second-grade boy at a Connecticut elementary school Monday. It also attacked two school staff members and a woman and her dog. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) — Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) — A white tiger killed a young man who climbed over a fence at the New Delhi zoo and jumped into the animal's enclosure on Tuesday, a spokesman said. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins