Making sense of floral scents

The nectar of plants may be more than just nourishment for the linkurl:birds;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/24844/ and linkurl:bees;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/home/52926/ that feed off of them - instead, suggests a study published in this week's issue of __Science__, it may be a complex chemical cocktail that simultaneously attracts and repels linkurl:pollinators;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/38038/ in order to optimize the amount of time they spend at each fl

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Aug 27, 2008
The nectar of plants may be more than just nourishment for the linkurl:birds;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/24844/ and linkurl:bees;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/home/52926/ that feed off of them - instead, suggests a study published in this week's issue of __Science__, it may be a complex chemical cocktail that simultaneously attracts and repels linkurl:pollinators;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/38038/ in order to optimize the amount of time they spend at each flower and the attention they pay to flowers on different plants. "This paper shows just how sophisticated a plant can be in using chemistry to get what it wants, which is to outcross," said linkurl:Ian Baldwin;http://www.ice.mpg.de/usrpers/iaba2016/web/main_en.htm from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany, the study's lead author. Baldwin and his colleagues studied a species of tobacco named linkurl:__Nicotiana attenuata__,;http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=NIAT which synthesizes linkurl:benzyl acetone;http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1024231.html to attract the linkurl:hummingbirds;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13890/ and linkurl:hawk moths;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15250/ that spread its pollen and sup on its nectar. That nectar also contains linkurl:nicotine,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/19757/ which ensures that these pollinators don't...

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