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Sun May 24, 2020, 09:08 AM

New Scientist - Bumblebees Can Force Plants To Flower Early By Chewing Holes In Their Leaves

Hungry bumblebees can coax plants into flowering and making pollen up to a month earlier than usual by punching holes in their leaves. Bees normally come out of hibernation in early spring to feast on the pollen of newly blooming flowers. However, they sometimes emerge too early and find that plants are still flowerless and devoid of pollen, which means the bees starve.

Fortunately, bumblebees have a trick up their sleeves for when this happens. Consuelo De Moraes at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and her colleagues discovered that worker bumblebees can make plants flower earlier than normal by using their mouthparts to pierce small holes in leaves.

In a series of laboratory and outdoor experiments, the researchers found that bumblebees were more likely to pierce holes in the leaves of tomato plants and black mustard plants when deprived of food. The leaf damage caused the tomato plants to flower 30 days earlier than usual and the black mustard plants to flower 16 days earlier.

It is still a mystery how the leaf damage promotes early blooming. Previous studies have found that plants sometimes speed up their flowering in response to stressors like intense light and drought, but the effects of insect damage havenít been studied much.

EDIT

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2244009-bees-force-plants-to-flower-early-by-cutting-holes-in-their-leaves/

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Reply New Scientist - Bumblebees Can Force Plants To Flower Early By Chewing Holes In Their Leaves (Original post)
hatrack May 24 OP
Botany May 24 #1
SWBTATTReg May 24 #2
hatrack May 24 #3
SWBTATTReg May 24 #4

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Sun May 24, 2020, 09:51 AM

1. Sonication and now this.

thanx for posting!

Buzz pollination or sonication is a technique used by some bees, such as solitary bees (Andrena carantonica) to release pollen which is more or less firmly held by the anthers. ... About 9% of the flowers of the world are primarily pollinated using buzz pollination.

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Sun May 24, 2020, 11:23 AM

2. Interesting. I wonder if other insects, nibbling on plants out in the garden, will cause the early

flowering too? Maybe like the article states, the flowering is in response to an attack on on the plant. Such as aphids sucking on plants that I see too?

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Response to SWBTATTReg (Reply #2)

Sun May 24, 2020, 11:24 AM

3. I know that walnut trees produce more nuts when drought-stressed . . .

Similar reproductive strategy here, perhaps.

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Response to hatrack (Reply #3)

Sun May 24, 2020, 11:26 AM

4. And when I prune (like grape vines etc.), this causes a surge of growth too...

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