How iridescence attracts bees to flowers for pollination

January 2nd, 2009 - 4:56 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 2 (ANI): A new study has found that bees are attracted to plants iridescence rather than their colour.

Bees live in a paintbox world in which flowers take on different colours that are invisible to the human eye.

Scientists have discovered that flower petals use the property, known as iridescence, to attract pollinators.

Iridescence is not due to a pigment but depends on surface structure, meaning tones change according to the angle the object is looked at.

Scientist knew that insects, birds, fish and reptiles use iridescence for species recognition and mate selection.

Now, according to a report in The Independent, new research shows that plants use iridescence as well as colour pigment to make themselves attractive to bees.

British scientists identified iridescence in hibiscus and tulip flowers, and showed that bumblebees could separate iridescence and colour. The bees also use iridescence as a reward signal.

In experiments, bumblebees were taught to recognise that iridescent discs containing yellow, blue or violet pigments that offered a sugary reward.

They learned to fly to those discs and avoid others with the same pigments which were not iridescent.

According to Dr Beverley Glover, from Cambridge University, who led the study, Our survey suggests iridescence may be very widespread. Flowers and their pollinators play an enormously important role in our lives, and it is intriguing to realise they are signalling to each other with flashing multicolours we cant see. (ANI)

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