Makeover for Plants


Plants that team with specific pollinators-hummingbirds or bees-evolve to heighten their appeal, according to a student at Duke University in Durham North Carolina. This goes against the theory that plants get stuck with their look once they become associated with a particular pollinator. The study suggests that plants have more evolutionary flexibility than previously thought. Pollination mechanisms in 115 species of Ruellia was studied. There was little evidence to suggest that Ruellia species pollinated by hawkmoths or bats have ever reverted to the more general strategy of catering to bees or other insects. But there appeared to be between 8 and 11 transitions from hummingbirds in favour of insects.


Down To Earth, September, 2008