AUG 21, 2016 12:58 PM PDT

Study Shows Pollinators Prefer East-Facing Flowers

Flowers like sunlight. With it, they are able to carry out photosynthesis, and it’s a necessary part of many plants’ growing and living process. But new research also shows that sunlight may be important for a number of other things in a plant’s life as well.
 
Many kinds of flowers actually try their best to face the sunlight to get more of it; among those are sunflowers. As they start their day, they face the East to anticipate the sunrise, and then they track the Sun from East to West through the sky until the Sun inevitably sets. Throughout the night, the sunflower resets its position to face the Sun to the East again in the morning.
 

Sunflowers have internal circadian clocks that help them grow and reproduce.

 
Such behavior is best observed in younger flowers, as they tend to lose the determination to face the right way as they mature. In a study published in Science, researchers found that this behavior plays a huge role in pollination candidacy, as well as growth.
 
They do this with a Circadian clock, which may sound familiar because animals (people included) also have a Circadian clock, which helps them know when it’s time to wake up and fall asleep.
 
The internal Circadian clock helps them face the East for the Sun in the morning, but it also plays a big role in helping the plant to grow as large as it can, as well as reproduce.
 
By facing the East, a flower warms up much more quickly as the Sun rises than a flower that faces the opposite direction does. This heat is a direct magnet for pollinators, which means flowers that have more effective Circadian clocks tend to get pollinated more frequently.
 
Showing that the warmth of Sunlight has an effect on pollination was easily demonstrated by using a portable heater to warm up flowers that weren’t facing the Sun, and pollinators, sure enough, went after the artificially-heated flowers rather than the colder ones.
 
It’s worth also noting that during the study, scientists were unable to trick the sunflowers’ sense for Sunlight. Even when trying to trick the plants with artificial light, they were unable to make the Sunflowers face the artificial light, which means their ability to face East to anticipate the Sun is based off of an internal clock and not light detection.
 
Also observed during the study is plants that were unable to face the East in the mornings grew less (by up to 10%). They figured this by essentially forcing some sunflowers to face the West by tethering them to a stake and then rotating them to the West.
 
It would seem that this internal Circadian clock is essential to more than one aspect of a Sunflower’s life cycle, and likely other kinds of plants as well.

Source: University of California - Davis

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 27, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 27, 2018
Can Effective Fisheries Management Prevent Extinction of Marine Fish Stocks?
Animal populations around the globe, marine variants included, are projected to decline as climate change rears its ugly head. But new research suggests th...
SEP 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 10, 2018
Does the Weather Impact Your Likelihood of Being Bitten by a Rattlesnake?
Venomous snakes, especially rattlesnakes, sport a somewhat salty reputation for biting humans when threatened in their natural habitat. Another frequently-...
SEP 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 24, 2018
Rare Two-Headed Snake Discovered in Virginia
There are two types of people in this world; those who love snakes and those who don’t. But regardless of which group you identify with, a recent dis...
OCT 16, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 16, 2018
Anti-Venomous Plant Compound
According to a study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers at the Institute Butantan, São Paulo, Brazil, have discovered a flav...
OCT 30, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 30, 2018
Scientists Discover New Swallowtail Butterfly Species on Vanua Levu
While perusing the Pacific Island of Vanua Levu in Fiji last year, researchers happened upon a precellular butterfly that captivated their attention. Given...
NOV 06, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 06, 2018
Why Bald Eagles Have Such Great Vision
The bald eagle is an incredible creature, not just for its beauty, but also because of its astonishing eyesight capabilities. Experts estimate that the bal...
Loading Comments...