Flowers use physics to attract pollinators

December 5, 2016, Wiley
A new review indicates that flowers may be able to manipulate the laws of physics, by playing with light, using mechanical tricks, and harnessing electrostatic forces to attract pollinators. Credit: New Phytologist

A new review indicates that flowers may be able to manipulate the laws of physics, by playing with light, using mechanical tricks, and harnessing electrostatic forces to attract pollinators.

The New Phytologist review describes the latest advances in our understanding of how plants use their flowers to ensure . Flowers use light to attract by creating colour using microscopic structures or chemical effects. Using gravity to their advantage, petals cause pollinators to slip or grip when they land on a flower, ensuring that they transfer pollen without taking too much of the sugary nectar reward. Plants may even alter their electrical fields to influence pollinator visits.

"It is surprising to many people that plants use the laws of physics to their advantage in attracting pollinators, but of course it makes sense that evolution has used all the available opportunities to enhance plant fitness," said Dr. Beverley Glover, co-author of the review.

Explore further: Flowers that point to the sky may attract more moth pollinators

More information: Edwige Moyroud et al, The physics of pollinator attraction, New Phytologist (2016). DOI: 10.1111/nph.14312

Related Stories

Threat posed by 'pollen thief' bees uncovered

October 9, 2015

A new University of Stirling study has uncovered the secrets of 'pollen thief' bees - which take pollen from flowers but fail to act as effective pollinators - and the threat they pose to certain plant species.

This flower smells like a bee under attack

October 6, 2016

A new discovery takes plants' deception of their pollinators to a whole new level. Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on October 6 found that the ornamental plant popularly known as Giant Ceropegia fools ...

Recommended for you

Quick quick slow is no-go in crab courtship dance

January 16, 2018

Female fiddler crabs are sensitive to changes in the speed of a male's courtship display, significantly preferring displays that accelerate to those that are performed at a constant speed or slow down.

0 comments

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.