Fertilizers prevented bumblebees from feeling the electric charge of the flower

(ORDO NEWS) — The interaction of a pollinating insect with a flower is a complex and even intimate process in which morphological, biochemical, and physical factors are important.

It turned out that visiting a flower and pollinating can disrupt mineral fertilizers and other chemicals that change the electrostatic charge on the surface of plants.

The evolution of flowering plants has been closely related to pollinating insects like butterflies, bees, and even ants.

As a result, such ecologically related species – the pollinator and the plants corresponding to it – turned out to be well “ground in” to each other.

Many insects and flowering plants eventually become highly specialized: they are adapted only to each other and do not deal with other species.

Now most angiosperms need “pollination services” from insects , without which they simply cannot reproduce.

At the same time, insects on flowers feed – either on the pollen itself or on the special nectar that plants produce specifically for them.

To attract a pollinator, a flower must have a number of recognizable properties.

This is color, shape, and, of course, a special aroma. Although they are all intended for the pollinator, these traits make flowers attractive to us as well.

It turned out that this characteristic of the flower changes greatly when synthetic mineral fertilizers and other agrochemicals fall on the plant . As a result, insects like bumblebees have difficulty visiting flowers for pollination.

Traditionally, more attention is paid to the direct toxic effects of drugs like pesticides, fertilizers, and so on. However, their negative impact on agroecosystems and their inhabitants is not limited to toxic effects.

Such compounds also affect the biophysical properties of plant flowers. But it is they who are guided by many pollinators.

Now scientists have been able to understand this issue in detail, using both experiments in the field and simulations.

Bumblebees Bombus terrestrisdalmatinus , large pollinators similar to bees in many respects, visited the flowers of the narrow-leaved lavender Lavandula angustifolia , plants from the gentian family Eustoma russellianum and some others.

During the experiments, the flowers were treated with both mineral fertilizers and imidacloprid, a pesticide from the class of neonicotinoid compounds.

The scientists then measured the magnitude of the electrostatic charge on the surface of the flowers. They noted that the chemicals did not affect the bumblebees’ vision and ability to distinguish odors.

However, the distribution of electrostatic charge, to which the insects were very sensitive, has changed dramatically.

Because of this, the behavior of pollinators was also disturbed, which lost an important reference point for their “work”.

This kind of “biophysical pollution” on the surface of plants persisted for up to 25 minutes – much longer than with changes in charge due to natural factors like wind.

“This adds to our knowledge of how diverse the negative effects of human activities on nature, which may seem rather sad, but at the same time can help find some way to prevent the negative effects of chemicals on bees,” summed up Sam England (Sam England ), one of the authors of the publication.

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