Yeast living in the nectar of flowering plants can act as miniature space heaters for winter-blooming flowers, suggesting the microorganisms may be a third player in what scientists have traditionally viewed as a two-part plant-pollinator relationship, according to a study published online today (February 9) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Helleborus foetidus
Image: Carlos Herrera
"It's pretty exciting," said evolutionary microbiologist linkurl:André Lachance; of the University of West Ontario, who was not involved in the research. "Some plants have mechanisms to produce heat on their own," such as harnessing solar radiation, he said, but the finding that "yeasts [are] producing heat in flowers, that's entirely new." Many species of yeast live in the nectar of hundreds of different plant species. By metabolizing the sugar it contains, the yeast drain the value of the nectar that bees and other pollinators receive as a reward for their pollen-dispersal services....
Helleborus foetidusMetschnikowia reukaufiiH. foetidusThe ScientistThe ScientistHelleborus foetidus

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