(Frontiers) The genus Iris of flowering plants comprises over 300 species across the northern hemisphere, some of which are Vulnerable or (Critically) Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Given this diversity, what might the last common ancestor of irises have looked like?
(Science) As the world’s climate changes, plants and animals have adapted by expanding into new territory and even shifting their breeding seasons. Now, research suggests that over the past 75 years, flowers have also adapted to rising temperatures and declining ozone by altering ultraviolet pigments in their petals.
(University of Helsinki) Insect pollination is as important to Arctic plants as it is to plants further south. When flowers abound, the plants have to compete for pollinators. Researchers reveal that higher temperatures cause the flowering periods of different plant species to pile up in time. As a consequence, climate change may affect the competitive relationships of plants. The most attractive plant species steal the majority of pollinators, making other plants flowering at the same time suffer from poorer pollination.
(Massive Science) Bees have evolved to become extremely successful pollinators, and generally have a mutually beneficial relationship with plants. But nectar-robbing is a behavior in which an insect lightly bites a small hole in the a flower’s tissues at the base of the petal to access nectar, without performing the act of pollination. It can have a profound impact on a plant’s ability to reproduce.
(Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology) Researchers showed that tobacco hawkmoths lost attraction to the scent of their preferred flowers when that scent had been altered by ozone. This oxidizing pollutant thus disturbs the chemical communication between a plant and its pollinator. However, when given the chance, hawkmoths quickly learn that an unpleasantly polluted scent may lead to nutritious nectar.
(National Geographic) Bumble bees aren’t merely bumbling around our gardens. They’re actively assessing the plants, determining which flowers have the most nectar and pollen, and leaving behind scent marks that tell them which blooms they’ve already visited. Now, a new study reveals that bumble bees force plants to flower by making tiny incisions in their leaves – a discovery that has stunned bee scientists.
(Cornell University) A new study on bees, plants and landscapes in upstate New York sheds light on how bee pathogens spread, offering possible clues for what farmers could do to improve bee health. The study found that 65 percent of bee species and 75 percent of flower species carried pathogens, and that pathogens are transmitted between bees and flowers.
(Stanford University) Researchers have discovered an ancient plant species whose reproductive biology captures the evolution from one to two spore sizes – an essential transition to the success of the seed and flowering plants we depend on.