PLANT ECOLOGY

The buzz about flowers

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Science  09 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6453, pp. 555-556
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6453.555-c

The beach evening primrose, Oenothera drummondii

PHOTO: DANIEL DEMPSTER PHOTOGRAPHY/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Plants are often thought of as rather passive organisms. However, they can actively respond to environmental cues to promote their own survival. Veits et al. show that at least one plant species responds to the sounds of bees in a way that enhances their attractiveness to pollinators. The authors exposed matforming beach evening primrose plants to recordings of the sounds of flying bees. The flowers appeared to “hear” the bees and vibrated in response to bee noise but not in response to higher-frequency sounds. The flowers then rapidly produced nectar with a higher sugar concentration, which is assumed to increase pollinator visitation and thereby actively promote the plant's reproductive success.

Ecol. Lett. 10.1111/ele.13331 (2019).

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