Bees need pollen for food. In doing so, they also pollinate the plants, which help the plants in creating seeds and thereby in reproduction. This is the symbiotic relationship between bees and plants, which is further explored in this study published in the American Journal of Botany. Apparently, some pollen have evolved to attach themselves into traveling bumblebees.
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Using a highly detailed electron scanning microscope, the research team could observe the microscopic surface of the spiny pollen, which otherwise looks like yellow dust to the naked eye.
“We observed this native pollen from the Rockies has optimally spaced spines that allow it to easily attach to a pollinator, such as a bumblebee,” said Austin Lynn, a recent graduate with a doctorate in biology from the Division of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science. “When we compared that with the average lawn dandelion, which does not need pollen to reproduce, we saw that the pollen on the lawn dandelion has a shorter distance between these spines, making it harder to attach to traveling pollinators. Therefore, we show this wild dandelion pollen has evolved over many generations to create an optimal shape for attaching to pollinators.”
More details of this study over at EurekAlert.
(Image Credit: University of Missouri/ EurekAlert)