Conical cells on the petals of most flowering plants appear to play a much more grounding role for pollinating bees than scientists have previously assumed.
According to a study to be published in the June 9 issue of Current Biology, these cone-shaped cells on the surface of petals appear to provide insect pollinators with secure footing while perched on the plant. "Most people assumed that [conical cells] played a role primarily in visual communication," said linkurl:David Baum,;http://www.botany.wisc.edu/baum/dbaum.htm plant evolutionary biologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who did not participate in the research. It was never entirely clear what conical cells were for; one hypothesis held that by modifying the spectral properties of the petal, the cells enabled the plant to appear brighter to pollinators. In this study, "they show the conical cells help provide more friction...
Image: Don Manning and Beverley Glover
University of Cambridge
Interested in reading more?
Become a Member of
Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!