IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

Plant Communication

G K GRAY gord at homostudy.win-uk.net
Thu May 15 18:04:56 EST 1997

In article <199705150353.DAA24875 at cryptic.rch.unimelb.edu.au>, Richard Kerr (kerrr at CRYPTIC.RCH.UNIMELB.EDU.AU) writes:
>At 13:22 15/05/97 +1200, you wrote:
>>gord at homostudy.win-uk.net (G K GRAY) wrote:
>>> A plant in bloom needs pollination to generate seed for the next
>>> generation. A costly way of doing this is to make a lot of pollen
>>> and let it blow on the wind, which is the way with maize. Less
>>> costly is to make less pollen *and* a cheap attractant - nectar,
>>> which says in effect "Come and get it!" to the bees, making them
>>> do some of the work the plant would otherwise be doing. It does not
>>> imply the plant is *consciously thinking* although that is a
>>> different subject that may or may not be relevant. It is
>>> nevertheless communication, a transfer of *information*, being
>>> closely akin to advertising.
>>What information is being transferred? and to whom?
>>A simple explanation would be that the plant is telling (isn't this
>information flow??)the bee:
>>here's a reward for doing my pollination
>>but is it that simple?
>I thought that the bee was after the pollen, 

"which is made into honey by the >digestive action of the bees."

Tell that one to a bee-keeper - he or she will roll on the floor
laughing! It is true that the bee sucks up the sugary nectar of the
flower and carries it to the hive, disgorging it into a cell of the
honeycomb where the water is driven off by evaporation and when full
the cell is sealed over with the same wax of which the comb is
made. Most of the pollen is left on the female organs of the flower
as the bee moves around inside the flower but a significant amount
is carried away to the hive and fed to the grubs, especially to
those destined to become queen.
        The bees, like squirrels, *store* food for the winter in
the form of honey with a protein supplement from the pollen
included. They keep warm by fanning the air inside the hive 
The nectar can be taken by the bees (as a  
>'pick-me-up') however the nectar acted as a lure to attract the
bees and >encourage them to explore the flower, with pollination as
a result.(how does >it lure the bees? I suggest by scent.  How keen
is the sense of smell of a 
>bee? I don't know.....any one out there have an idea?) .  

Yes indeed! It is very keen - they can detect a species in bloom as
far as 3km from the hive and return to it to perform the "bee-dance"
which tells the rest of the hive exactly where it is geographically.

>The information is flowing from flower-nectar-bee (i)
>Also from flower-pollen-bee-other flower (ii)
>The type of information being transferred could be advertising in (i) it is
>genetic information in (ii) 
>>Some plants leaf litter contains substances toxic to other species.
>>Is this a warning to them, or simply a survival tactic?

In this context is there any meaningful difference? In certain
plant species, however, there is a chemical response to a
caterpillar infestation which repels a second attempt at
infestation by the caterpillar species. 

>Which other species?
>If it was plant competitors, then perhaps it is a tactic to keep the
>opposition out (a survival tactic, but also a 'domination' tactic, although
>one could be an extension of the other).
>If toxic to say grazing animals, then again it could be a survival
>tactic....what would be interesting was if the leaves were a certain
>morphology or colour and that there were similar leaves from a mimic that
>were NOT toxic...I suppose that mimicry would be more to do with 'warning'
>than toxic leaves, this would be taking advantage of the learning of the
>grazing species...if the only way to learn is by communication (as a flow of
>data in the simplest context ) then the plant is communicating data to other
>Your thoughts?
>PS: how can a music person be a Luddite, neo or otherwise...care to elaborate?
>Richard Kerr.
>The Murdoch Institute,
>R.C.H. Flemington Rd, Parkville, 3052,
>kerrr at cryptic.rch.unimelb.edu.au
>Phone (61) 3 9345 5045.
>FAX   (61) 3 9348 1391.
>'The most interesting things about vertebrates occur in the neural crest.'
>       Peter Thorogood.
Gord at homostudy.win-uk.net

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net