BIO Web of Conferences
Volume 6, 2016Electro-Activity of Biological Systems
|Number of page(s)||1|
|Section||Animals & plants|
|Published online||22 March 2016|
The bee, the flower and the electric field
School of Biological Sciences, Life Science Building, University of Bristol 24, Tyndall Avenue, BRISTOL, BS6 1TQ, UK
a Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Insects use several different senses to forage on flowers, and detect floral cues such as color, shape, pattern, humidity and chemical volatiles. This presentation will present our discovery of a previously unappreciated sensory capacity in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris): the detection of floral electric fields. We show that these floral fields act as informational cues, and that they can be affected by the visit of naturally electrically charged bees. Like visual cues, floral electric fields exhibit variations in pattern and structure, which can be discriminated by bumblebees. We also show that such electric field information contributes to the complex array of floral cues that together improve a pollinator’s memory of floral rewards. Floral electric fields arise from complex interactions with the surrounding atmosphere, an interaction between plants and their environment that not well understood. Because floral electric fields can change within seconds, this new sensory modality - electrostatic field detection- may facilitate rapid and dynamic communication between flowers and their pollinators.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2016
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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