Click For Photo: https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2019/02/190214093356_1_540x360.jpg
In an article published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution this week, Dr Corneile Minnaar describes this novel method, which will enable pollination biologists to track the whole pollination process from the first visit by a pollinator to its endpoint -- either successfully transferred to another flower's stigma or lost along the way.
Despite over two hundred years of detailed research on pollination, Minnaar says, researchers do not know for sure where most of the microscopically tiny pollen grains actually land up once they leave flowers: "Plants produce massive amounts of pollen, but it looks like more than 90% of it never reaches stigmas. For the tiny fraction of pollen grains that make their way to stigmas, the journey is often unclear -- which pollinators transferred the grains and from where?"
Minnaar - Others - Challenge - PhD - Research
Starting in 2015, Minnaar decided to tread where many others have thus far failed, and took up the challenge through his PhD research in the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University (SU).
"Most plant species on earth are reliant on insects for pollination, including more than 30% of the food crops we eat. With insects facing rapid global decline, it is crucial that we understand which insects are important pollinators of different plants -- this starts with tracking pollen," he explains.
Idea - Method - Article - Use - Dots
He came upon the idea for a pollen-tracking method after reading an article on the use of quantum dots to track cancer cells in rats. Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals that are so small, they...
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