New research provides better understanding of the birds and the bees

Dec 18, 2007
New research provides better understanding of the birds and the bees
A 96-million-year-old anglosperm pollen cluster

Researchers from Indiana University Southeast and the University of Florida have discovered important information about the origin of flowering plants and how they reproduce.

The findings of Shusheng Hu, an IU Southeast research associate; David Winship Taylor, IU Southeast biology professor; and David L. Dilcher and David M. Jarzen, both from the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, are featured in the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Their research uncovered that when it comes to birds, bees, flowers and trees, looks do matter. Flowers are pretty so they will attract animals, such as birds and bees, for pollination. Pines and other seed plants are normally pollinated by the wind.

Furthermore, this form of plant sex has been happening for ages. Fossilized flowers have shown that animals have been helping plants reproduce since ancient times. The new data on plant reproduction suggests that 76 percent of the first flowering plant species were insect-pollinated while 24 percent were pollinated by the wind.

The botanists studied the specialization of fossil pollen from Minnesota and discovered that many species of pollen are found clumped. Clumped pollen is only found in animal-pollinated flowers.

The research also suggested that pollen may have been the source of prehistoric allergies.

At 96 million years ago, about a quarter of flowers were wind-pollinated. Wind-pollinated plants are the main source of allergies in people, which leads to the thought that perhaps those plants caused allergic reactions in dinosaurs and other animals.

Recent molecular work determined an evolutionary tree of living flowering plants and identified the first evolvers. Based on the researchers' analyses, these flowers probably used insect pollinators.

Source: Indiana University

Explore further: Fears for pink iguanas as Galapagos volcano erupts

Related Stories

Orchid seductress ropes in unsuspecting males

May 21, 2015

A single population of a rare hammer orchid species known as a master of sexual deception appears to have recently evolved to seduce a new and wider-spread species of impressionable male wasps.

Study reveals how eastern US forests came to be

May 20, 2015

Plant hunters traveling between North America and Asia in the 1800s noticed a bizarre pattern: collections they brought back from China and Japan were strikingly similar in their leaves, flowers and fruits ...

New begonia germplasm lines both beautiful and sturdy

May 13, 2015

Two new begonia germplasm lines developed by Agricultural Research Service and collaborating scientists are now available for use in breeding elite varieties of the ornamental crop that can tolerate the heat ...

Traces of flowers placed on a Palaeolithic tomb found

May 08, 2015

The burial of the so-called Red Lady, dating back to the Upper Palaeolithic, was discovered in El MirĂ³n cave (Cantabria) in 2010. The Journal of Archaeological Science has devoted a special edition to all ...

Recommended for you

Fears for pink iguanas as Galapagos volcano erupts

14 hours ago

A volcano in the Galapagos islands erupted for the first time in more than 30 years Monday, sending streams of lava flowing down its slopes and potentially threatening the world's only colony of pink iguanas.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.