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: Silicon: An important element in rice production

Related Stories

Popular pesticide hurts wild bees in major field study

19 hours ago

A common type of pesticide is dramatically harming wild bees, according to a new in-the-field study that outside experts say may help shift the way the U.S. government looks at a controversial class of chemicals.

Recommended for you

Silicon: An important element in rice production

1 hour ago

Silicon (Si) is the second most abundant element of the earth's crust after oxygen. It has long been neglected by ecologists, as it is not considered an essential nutrient for plants. However, research of ...

New blueberry species found in the Colombian forests

2 hours ago

The description of five new species of blueberry relatives from Colombia highlights the country's great diversity of the plant family Ericaceae and the importance of field exploration. These new mortiños, as loc ...

A CRISPR antiviral tool

2 hours ago

Emory scientists have adapted an antiviral enzyme from bacteria called Cas9 into an instrument for inhibiting hepatitis C virus in human cells.

Researchers find proteins responsible for orchid shape

3 hours ago

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with National Chung Hsing University in China has found the proteins responsible for determining the shape of orchid lips. In their paper published in the journal Nature Pl ...

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.