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Mutations perturbing petal cell shape and anthocyanin synthesis influence bumblebee perception of Antirrhinum majus flower colour

Mutations perturbing petal cell shape and anthocyanin synthesis influence bumblebee perception of Antirrhinum majus flower colour

Dyer, Adrian G., Whitney, Heather M., Arnold, Sarah E.J., Glover, Beverley J. and Chittka, Lars (2007) Mutations perturbing petal cell shape and anthocyanin synthesis influence bumblebee perception of Antirrhinum majus flower colour. Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 1 (1). pp. 45-55. ISSN 1872-8855 (Print), 1872-8847 (Online) (doi:10.1007/s11829-007-9002-7)

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Abstract

We wished to understand the effects on pollinator
behaviour of single mutations in plant genes
controlling flower appearance. To this end, we analysed
snapdragon flowers (Antirrhinum majus), including the
mixta and nivea mutants, in controlled laboratory conditions
using psychophysical tests with bumblebees. The
MIXTA locus controls petal epidermal cell shape, and
thus the path that incident light takes within the pigment-
containing cells. The effect is that mixta mutant
flowers are pink in comparison to the wild type purple
flowers, and mutants lack the sparkling sheen of wild
type flowers that is clearly visible to human observers.
Despite their fundamentally different appearance to
humans, and even though bees could discriminate the
flowers, inexperienced bees exhibited no preference for
either type, and the flowers did not differ in their
detectability in a Y-maze—either when the flowers appeared
in front of a homogeneous or a dappled background.
Equally counterintuitive effects were found for
the non-pigmented, UV reflecting nivea mutant: even
though the overall reflectance intensity andUVsignal of
nivea flowers is several times that of wild type flowers,
their detectability was significantly reduced relative to
wild type flowers. In addition, naı¨ve foragers preferred
wild type flowers over nivea mutants, even though these
generated a stronger signal in all receptor types. Our
results show that single mutations affecting flower signal
can have profound effects on pollinator behaviour—but
not in ways predictable by crude assessments via human
perception, nor simple quantification of UV signals.
However, current models of bee visual perception
predict the observed effects very well.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: epidermis, evolution, mixta, nivea, pollination, psychophysics, Snapdragon
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2014 16:31
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/6915

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