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 October 25, 2014 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 October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
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