(Press-News.org) Air pollutants reduce nocturnal hawkmoth pollination of evening primrose flowers by altering the flowers’ appealing scents, according to a new study that involved field experiments in Washington state. The findings illustrate the impact of anthropogenic airborne pollutants on an animal’s olfactory ability and suggest that such pollutants may limit global pollination. Human activities have drastically altered the environment. Sensory pollutants – human-introduced noise, artificial light, and chemical pollutants – can change animal behavior and fitness by introducing new stimuli or modifying naturally occurring stimuli used by animals’ sensory systems. Airborne pollutants, such as oxidants like ozone (O3) and nitrate radicals (NO3), are known to degrade the chemical compounds that produce floral scents. Many plant pollinators navigate long distances, drawn by the flowers’ scents while foraging for food. It’s thought that plant-pollinator interactions may be particularly susceptible to the effects of these airborne pollutants by making it difficult for insects to locate and pollinate flowers. However, little is known about how degradation of natural scents affects pollinator olfactory behaviors and plant fitness.
Jeremy Chan and colleagues investigated the effects of O3 and NO3 oxidants on nocturnal hawkmoth pollination of the evening primrose (Oenothera pallida). These desert flowers release a strong floral scent that attracts a rich diversity of pollinators. Through field observations in eastern Washington state, and laboratory experiments, Chan et al. discovered that NO3 – the dominant oxidant at night in some polluted regions – rapidly degrades specific floral scent compounds, making flowers undetectable by nocturnally foraging hawkmoths. According to the findings, NO3 was much more reactive than O3 and selectively oxidized a specific subset of monoterpenes in the floral odor that hawkmoths use to recognize the flower. Oxidized scents resulted in a 70% (+/-20%) drop in flower visitation by hawkmoths, likely reducing plant fruiting and fitness. Using a global model, Chan et al. demonstrate that many urban areas have sufficient atmospheric O3 and NO3 pollution levels to significantly reduce the distances at which pollinators can sense flowers.
Atmospheric nitrate radicals degrade floral scents, disrupting pollinator-plant interactions
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
Ultra-fast magma flow into dike below Grindavík Iceland
The 15-kilometer-long magma dike that formed beneath Grindavík, Iceland, in November 2023, which caused widespread damage and evacuation of the local population, reached an unprecedented subsurface magma flow rate of 7400 cubic meters per second, researchers report. The dike formation preceeded the more recent Sundhnúkur eruptions in December 2023 and January 2024. The study, which combined satellite-based geodetic observations and seismic measurements of the Sundhnúkur crater chain and physical modeling, shows how fracturing and tectonic stress can drive massive magma flow into dikes with only modest overpressure in the feeding magma body. According to the authors, the ...
Combining materials may support unique superconductivity for quantum computing
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new fusion of materials, each with special electrical properties, has all the components required for a unique type of superconductivity that could provide the basis for more robust quantum computing. The new combination of materials, created by a team led by researchers at Penn State, could also provide a platform to explore physical behaviors similar to those of mysterious, theoretical particles known as chiral Majoranas, which could be another promising component for quantum computing. The ...
The analysis of biological networks allows understanding the complexity of multiple sclerosis
International research led by the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences (MELIS) at Pompeu Fabra University, in collaboration with Hospital del Mar, Hospital Clínic, Charité - Medical University of Berlin, and the universities of Oslo and Genoa, has developed a computational biology tool, based on multi-level network analysis, to achieve an integrated vision of multiple sclerosis. This tool could be used to study other complex diseases such as types of dementia. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune ...
Care for life-threatening child diarrhea limited by health providers’ views
Young children in India who suffer from life-threatening diarrhea frequently are given ineffective treatments because health providers misperceive the wishes of a child’s caregiver, according to a novel new study. Using actors posing as child caregivers to examine the behavior of health providers in two divergent regions in India, researchers found that the perceived preferences of a child’s caregiver was a more important factor in the way a child was treated than the views of the health care provider about the best course of action. The ...
ANU scientists debunk role of ‘junk cells’ in fight against malaria
Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have discovered a previously unknown ability of a group of immune system cells, known as Atypical B cells (ABCs), to fight infectious diseases such as malaria. The discovery provides new insight into how the immune system fights infections and brings scientists a step closer to harnessing the body’s natural defences to combat malaria. The scientists say ABCs could also be key to developing new treatments for chronic autoimmune conditions such as lupus. According to the researchers, ABCs have long been associated with malaria, ...
Fibroblasts in the penis are more important for erectile function than previously thought
Regular erections could be important for maintaining erectile function, according to a new study on mice published in Science by researchers at Karolinska Institutet. “We discovered that an increased frequency of erections leads to more fibroblasts that enable erection and vice versa, that a decreased frequency results in fewer of these cells,” says principal investigator Christian Göritz. In a new study on mice, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University in Sweden ...
MIT physicists capture the first sounds of heat “sloshing” in a superfluid
In most materials, heat prefers to scatter. If left alone, a hotspot will gradually fade as it warms its surroundings. But in rare states of matter, heat can behave as a wave, moving back and forth somewhat like a sound wave that bounces from one end of a room to the other. In fact, this wave-like heat is what physicists call “second sound.” Signs of second sound have been observed in only a handful of materials. Now MIT physicists have captured direct images of second sound for the first time. The new images reveal how heat can move like a wave, ...
How emotions affect word retrieval in people with aphasia
COLUMBUS, Ohio – People with aphasia have more trouble coming up with words they want to use when they’re prompted by images and words that carry negative emotional meaning, new research suggests. The study involved individuals whose language limitations resulted from damage to the brain caused by a stroke – the most common cause of aphasia, affecting at least one-third of stroke survivors. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Researchers from The Ohio State University who led the study said the findings – suggesting that prompts ...
Pregnant women living in states with limited access to abortion face higher levels of intimate partner homicide
Key Takeaways Young women under the age of 30, Black women, and women with lower education levels are disproportionately affected by intimate partner homicide during pregnancy, reflecting the need to better serve and protect these vulnerable populations. Particularly by firearms, increasing rates of intimate partner homicide of women who are pregnant or recently pregnant are occurring in states that have limited access to abortion. Researchers describe a ‘dire ...
Researchers uncover genetic factors for severe Lassa fever
While combing through the human genome in 2007, computational geneticist Pardis Sabeti made a discovery that would transform her research career. As a then postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Sabeti discovered potential evidence that some unknown mutation in a gene called LARGE1 had a beneficial effect in the Nigerian population. Other scientists had discovered that this gene was critical for the Lassa virus to enter cells. Sabeti wondered whether a mutation in LARGE1 ...