Columbine flowers develop long nectar spurs in response to pollinators

In flowers called columbines, evolution of the length of nectar spurs--the long tubes leading to plants' nectar--happens in a way that allows flowers to match the tongue lengths of the pollinators that drink their nectar, biologists have found.

The researchers were Justen Whittall of the University of California at Davis and Scott Hodges of the University of California at Santa Barbara. They were funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Their results appear in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

Darwin once proposed a co-evolutionary "race" to explain how natural selection might account for the evolution of very long nectar spurs in flowers, said Hodges. "In Darwin's race, plants with the longest spurs and pollinators with the longest tongues [to tap the flowers' nectar] would be favored by natural selection, and--in a never-ending process--continually drive the plants' spurs and the pollinator tongues to exceptionally long lengths."

But it turns out, Whittall and Hodges found, that evolution acts in a more one-sided fashion in many plants: the plants evolve nectar spurs to match the tongue-lengths of the pollinators. Then the process stops, and only starts again when there is a change in pollinators.

Whittall and Hodges proved this idea by testing the columbine genus Aquilegia, which is pollinated by bumblebees, hummingbirds and hawkmoths.

They found that most of the columbines' nectar spur length evolution happened during shifts in pollinators from bumblebees to hummingbirds, and from hummingbirds to hawkmoths. In between these shifts, evolution of the columbines' nectar spurs came to a halt.

Whittall and Hodges' work provides evidence that evolution may occur in a stop-and-go pattern--one in which adaptation to specific pollinators occurs very rapidly, followed by periods of no further evolution until another pollinator shift occurs, according to William Zamer, deputy director of NSF's di

Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation

Page: 1 2

Related biology news :

1. Plants with male and bisexual flowers on the same plant are better mothers
2. How did bilaterally symmetric flowers evolve from radially symmetric ones?
3. Genetic snooze button governs timing of spring flowers
4. Wild bees and the flowers they pollinate are disappearing together
5. How flowers changed the world a new book by Field Museum scientist
6. Lots of flowers and trees, not enough birds and bees
7. AIDS drug from sunflowers
8. A new angle on flowers: Fish are players in pollination
9. Bumblebees copy one another when contending with unfamiliar flowers
10. Teamwork between 2 key proteins necessary for normal development and regulation of red blood cells
11. New research identifies anti-viral protein that may predict who might be at risk to develop lupus

Post Your Comments:

(Date:3/29/2016)... 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. (OTC: ... SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our successful effort ... variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures against counterfeiting ... from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured of ongoing ... Bill Bollander , CEO states, "By ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... PUNE, India , March 22, 2016 ... new market research report "Electronic Sensors Market for ... Fingerprint, Proximity, & Others), Application (Communication & ... and Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", ... consumer industry is expected to reach USD ...
(Date:3/21/2016)... , March 22, 2016 ... recognition with passcodes for superior security   ... a leading provider of secure digital communications services, today ... biometric technology and offer enterprise customers, particularly those in ... facial recognition and voice authentication within a mobile app, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The company's primary focus ... distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to help companies efficiently ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... DIEGO , June 24, 2016 ... more sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors ... circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The new test has ... HRD-targeted therapeutics in multiple cancer types. ... targeting DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016   Boston Biomedical , an industry ... to target cancer stemness pathways, announced that its ... Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug ... including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is an ... cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young Investigator ... Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of 128 ... About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: