Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How does your garden glow?

Date:
January 9, 2013
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
Nature’s ability to create iridescent flowers has been recreated by mathematicians. They have created a mathematical model of a plant’s petals to help us learn more about iridescence in flowering plants and the role it may play in attracting pollinators.

Nature's ability to create iridescent flowers has been recreated by mathematicians at The University of Nottingham. The team of researchers have collaborated with experimentalists at the University of Cambridge to create a mathematical model of a plant's petals to help us learn more about iridescence in flowering plants and the role it may play in attracting pollinators.

An iridescent surface appears to change colour as you alter the angle you view it from. It is found in the animal kingdom in insects, inside sea shells and in feathers, and is also seen in some plants. Iridescence in flowers may act as a signal to pollinators such as bumble-bees, which are crucial to crop production.

Understanding how petals produce iridescence to attract pollinators is a major goal in plant biology. An estimated 35 per cent of global crop production depends on petal-mediated animal pollination but a decrease in pollinator numbers across the world has started to limit the odds of pollination and reduce crop production rates.

Flowers and the animals that pollinate plants interact at the petal surface. The surfaces of many petals have regular patterns, produced from folds of the waterproof cuticle layer that covers all plant surfaces. These patterns can interfere with light to produce strong optical effects including iridescent colours, and might also influence animal grip.

Iridescence in plants is produced by nanoscale ridges on the top of the cells in the petal's epidermal surface. These tiny ridges produce structures called diffraction gratings. The particular shape and spacing of these ridges and the shape of the cells sculpt the outermost layer of the petal giving it a unique physical, mechanical or optical property. These properties interfere with different wavelengths of light creating the colour variation when it is seen at different angles. Pollinators, such as bumblebees, can detect the iridescent signal produced by petal nanoridges and can learn to use this signal as a cue to identify rewarding flowers.

The research has been published in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface. Rea Antoniou Kourounioti, a PhD student in the School of Biosciences, said: "We provide a first analysis of how petal surface patterns might be produced. Our team of researchers combined experimental data with mathematical modelling to develop a biomechanical model of the outer layers of a petal or leaf. We used this to demonstrate that mechanical buckling of the outermost, waxy cuticle layer, can create the ridge patterns observed in nature on petals and leaves. Learning more about how iridescence is produced is important for pollination of crops and also for other types of patterning in biology."

The research was undertaken by The University of Nottingham, University of Cambridge, University of Manchester and Biotalentum Ltd, and has been published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The study was initiated by the Mathematics in the Plant Sciences Study Group, an annual UK-based workshop organised by The University of Nottingham's Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, which kick-starts collaborations between plant scientists and mathematicians.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. R. L. Antoniou Kourounioti, L. R. Band, J. A. Fozard, A. Hampstead, A. Lovrics, E. Moyroud, S. Vignolini, J. R. King, O. E. Jensen, B. J. Glover. Buckling as an origin of ordered cuticular patterns in flower petals. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 2012; 10 (80): 20120847 DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2012.0847

Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "How does your garden glow?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130109124116.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2013, January 9). How does your garden glow?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130109124116.htm
University of Nottingham. "How does your garden glow?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130109124116.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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