New research provides better understanding of the birds and the bees

December 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: New form of mRNA regulation characterized

Related Stories

New form of mRNA regulation characterized

November 23, 2015

RNA, once thought to be a mere middleman between DNA and protein, is now recognized as the stage at which a host of regulatory processes can act to allow for flexibility in gene expression and thus the functions of cells ...

Pesticide-makers point to other culprits in bee die-offs

November 23, 2015

In a Nordic-inspired building tucked in a corner of the Bayer CropScience North American headquarters, high school students wander through 6,000 square feet dedicated entirely to the specialness of bees. Children taste different ...

Bioart: An introduction

November 23, 2015

Joe Davis is an artist who works not only with paints or pastels, but also with genes and bacteria. In 1986, he collaborated with geneticist Dan Boyd to encode a symbol for life and femininity into an E. coli bacterium. The ...

Recommended for you

Don't forget plankton in climate change models, says study

November 26, 2015

A new study from the University of Exeter, published in the journal Ecology Letters, found that phytoplankton - microscopic water-borne plants - can rapidly evolve tolerance to elevated water temperatures. Globally, phytoplankton ...


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.