PerspectiveNeuroscience

Caffeine Boosts Bees' Memories

Science  08 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6124, pp. 1157-1159
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234411

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Summary

Pollination systems are biological markets, where flower visitors choose between flower species on the basis of their quality, such as the sweetness and amount of nectar per flower. Plants in turn compete for pollinators and advertise their product through colorful visual displays and scents. A key challenge in floral advertising is that signals must be not only attractive but also memorable (1): The more distinct a flower signal, the more likely a pollinator is to remember it, increasing the probability that pollinators will visit more flowers of this species while ignoring competing flower species. On page 1202 of this issue, Wright et al. (2) report that some plant species appear to gain an unfair advantage in this competitive market by manipulating the memory of bees with psychoactive drugs.