Home Crop Monitoring Flower attracts insects by pretending to be a mushroom

Flower attracts insects by pretending to be a mushroom


This discovery was made by Challenge Affiliate Professor SUETSUGU Kenji (Kobe College Graduate Faculty of Science) and Senior Researcher SUEYOSHI Masahiro (Forest Zoology Group, Kyushu Analysis Middle). The findings had been revealed on November 14 within the on-line version of Ecology.

Aspidistra elatior is a fashionable houseplant, often called the “cast iron plant” for its potential to stand up to neglect. It may possibly be discovered rising everywhere in the world, however is indigenous to southern Japanese islands.

Its purple, fleshy flowers bloom straight above the soil, nearly burrowing into the bottom and infrequently hidden by leaf litter. Their look has been in contrast to mushrooms one of many meals of selection for the fungus gnats that go to these flowers.

The oddly-shaped flowers of A. elatior are in all probability a intelligent technique: mimicking mushrooms so as to trick fungus gnats into pollinating them.

Flying insects resembling honeybees and bumblebees are important pollinators for a lot of vegetation. Nonetheless, some vegetation use different animals for pollination. For instance, some banana species use bats, and a species referred to as banksia makes use of opossums.

Studies of slug pollination for A. elatior date from over 100 years in the past, when slugs had been noticed visiting vegetation in Europe. This principle remains to be extensively accepted and even seems in textbooks. Nonetheless, the statement has a flaw it was not made within the plant’s pure habitat.

Moreover, visiting a plant doesn’t imply the animal acts as a pollinator. Quite the opposite, slugs are identified for consuming leaves and flowers, they usually might have been damaging the vegetation.

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In 2009 there have been experiences of fungus gnats visiting the A. elatior flowers. However this statement was additionally made outdoors the plant’s native habitat, and it was solely a single report not sufficient for conclusive proof of pollination by fungus gnats.

This time the analysis crew took a completely different method. “For two years we observed the animals that visited these flowers in their native habitat, continuously, day and night.” The outcome? “We discovered that no slugs visited, and hardly any beach fleas.

The candidate that emerged as an effective pollinator was the fungus gnat. Fungus gnats that visited the plants quickly dived into the center of the flowers, attached a large amount of pollen to their bodies, and flew away.”

The crew additionally noticed fungus gnats arriving at A. elatior flowers carrying pollen from different flowers, and noticed that the flowers they visited produced fruit. This proved that fungus gnats had been the true pollinators.

Professor Suetsugu feedback: “We believe that the similar appearance of A. elatior and mushroom fruit bodies may help attract fungus gnats. In addition, A. elatior emits a strong musty odor. Therefore, the fungus gnats may be deceived by both visual and chemical mimicry.”

These findings have overturned a extensively accepted principle, and clarified that like most vegetation, A. elatior are pollinated primarily by flying insects. In different phrases, this plant, though mysterious, might not be so unusual in any case.


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