Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bees can be more important than fertilizer

Date:
June 10, 2014
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
Insects play a key role in the pollination of cultivated plants, and a new study suggests that they can be even more important than fertilizer. In the study, fertilization and watering only had an effect on harvest yield in combination with pollination manipulations. Results led the scientists to the conclusion that an almond tree can compensate for a lack of nutrients and water in the short term by directing stored nutrients and water to the fruits but cannot compensate for insufficient pollination.

A mining bee (left) and a European honey bee visiting almond blossoms in Northern California.
Credit: Image courtesy of Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

A lack of bees and other wild insects to pollinate crop plants can reduce harvest yields more drastically than a lack of fertilizer or a failure to provide the crops with sufficient water. When crops are adequately pollinated, on the other hand, the plants bear more fruit and their nutrient content changes. These are the findings of an experiment on almond trees conducted in California by the Freiburg ecologist Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein and her colleagues from the USA. The team published articles presenting their findings in the journals Plant Biology and PLoS ONE.

Related Articles


Alexandra-Maria Klein will receive the 25,000-euro CULTURA Prize on Tuesday, 17 June 2014, for this and other research projects on the importance of insects for the pollination of crop plants. Conferred by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation, the prize recognizes European scientists for innovative and exemplary research approaches in the areas of nature conservation, agriculture and forestry, and related sciences.

Together with students and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, Alexandra Klein manipulated almond trees by preventing bees from pollinating blossoms with the help of cages, allowing the bees to pollinate the blossoms, or pollinating them by hand. In addition, the researchers watered and fertilized trees in accordance with local practices or gave them only little water or no fertilizer. In the case of several almond trees, they combined the various manipulations in order to study in isolation and in combination the effects on harvest yield and the composition of nutrients in the nuts. The almond trees that were pollinated by hand produced the most nuts, but they were also very small. By contrast, a tree that was left unpollinated hardly produced any nuts at all -- but the few that it did produce were very large. The yield of the trees pollinated by bees was roughly 200 percent higher than that of self-pollinatedtrees.

Fertilization and watering only had an effect on harvest yield in combination with the pollination manipulations. However, the inadequately watered trees lost more leaves, and the leaves of the unfertilized trees increasingly turned yellow. This led the scientists to the conclusion that an almond tree can compensate for a lack of nutrients and water in the short term by directing stored nutrients and water to the fruits but cannot compensate for insufficient pollination. Furthermore, the scientists demonstrated that the composition of nutrients differs depending on the pollination mode: Nuts from the self-pollinated trees contained a lower proportion of linoleic acid but a higher proportion of vitamin E.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. A.-M. Klein, S. D. Hendrix, Y. Clough, A. Scofield, C. Kremen. Interacting effects of pollination, water and nutrients on fruit tree performance. Plant Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/plb.12180
  2. Claire Brittain, Claire Kremen, Andrea Garber, Alexandra-Maria Klein. Pollination and Plant Resources Change the Nutritional Quality of Almonds for Human Health. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (2): e90082 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090082

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Bees can be more important than fertilizer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610101516.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2014, June 10). Bees can be more important than fertilizer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610101516.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Bees can be more important than fertilizer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610101516.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 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:

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