Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When flowers turn up the heat

Date:
August 6, 2010
Source:
American Journal of Botany
Summary:
Could a "hot" flower attract pollinators by serving as a reward in a plant-pollinator mutualism? Many flowering plants produce nectar and pollen as rewards in exchange for pollination services by insects and other animals. Interestingly, however, a few plants have flowers that also produce heat metabolically -- so what is the adaptive function of this flower heating?

Could a "hot" flower attract pollinators by serving as a reward in a plant-pollinator mutualism? Many flowering plants produce nectar and pollen as rewards in exchange for pollination services by insects and other animals. Interestingly, however, a few plants have flowers that also produce heat metabolically -- so what is the adaptive function of this flower heating?

Related Articles


Susanne Renner from the University of Munich, Germany and Shi-Xiao Luo from the South China Botanical Garden, along with collaborators from China and Taiwan, were interested in determining whether there was a connection between the heating of flowers and the pollination services of flies in an ancient Chinese family, Schisandraceae. Although this family is quite widespread, including Asia and the Americas, its center of diversity is in China, which is one reason Renner and colleagues chose to examine this question in two Chinese Illicium species. Their novel findings are published in the July issue of the American Journal of Botany.

"A few flowers, usually ones pollinated by beetles or flies, produce heat to help scent emission or to create especially attractive egg laying sites for their pollinators," Renner commented. "Usually such heating occurs only during flowering, simultaneous with the release of pollen and stigma receptivity. We discovered that in an Asian Illicium species, flowers reach their highest temperatures during early fruit development, and experiments revealed that this is for the exclusive benefit of the pollinator's larvae, which develop in the spent flowers."

Indeed, by combining diurnal and nocturnal observations of flower visitors with recordings of flower temperature from the onset of the female phase, through the male phase, and on through what the authors term the "nursing phase," Renner, Luo, and colleagues made a surprising discovery that the key stage of thermal warming was well after the flowers' sexual function is over.

By staying up for hours throughout the night, Luo observed that gall midges, belonging to a new species of Clinodiplosis, visit flowers in the male and female phases, carry pollen in on their bodies, and lay eggs on stigmas. At the end of the male stage, the flowers' stigmas fold inward and the styles move upright, forming a chamber around the midge eggs. It is during this "nursing phase" that the flowers produce the highest temperatures (about 2.5 C above ambient temperatures).

"Experiments revealed that heated tissues are essential for the development of the pollinators' larvae," Renner noted. When the tepal tips were trimmed, larvae in the nurseries died, presumably because of the temperature drop, but seed development was not affected. "This implies a novel role for flower heating," says Renner. "An immediate lesson from this discovery is that heat monitoring should not stop with the end of a flower's attractive phase."

When the authors examined the pattern of midge pollination and flower heating in Schisandraceae within a molecular phylogenetic context, they concluded that flower heating is an ancestral trait, which likely first evolved to attract flies through increased odor emission. Midges subsequently may have taken advantage of the warm flowers for breeding, thus setting the stage for this exclusive mutualism.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. S.-X. Luo, S.-M. Chaw, D. Zhang, S. S. Renner. Flower heating following anthesis and the evolution of gall midge pollination in Schisandraceae. American Journal of Botany, 2010; 97 (7): 1220 DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1000077

Cite This Page:

American Journal of Botany. "When flowers turn up the heat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100728092631.htm>.
American Journal of Botany. (2010, August 6). When flowers turn up the heat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100728092631.htm
American Journal of Botany. "When flowers turn up the heat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100728092631.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
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