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Caffeine in floral nectar enhances a pollinator's memory of reward

Caffeine in floral nectar enhances a pollinator's memory of reward

Wright, G.A., Baker, D.D., Palmer, M.J., Stabler, D., Mustard, J.A., Power, E.F., Borland, A.M. and Stevenson, P.C. ORCID: 0000-0002-0736-3619 (2013) Caffeine in floral nectar enhances a pollinator's memory of reward. Science, 339 (6124). pp. 1202-1204. ISSN 0036-8075 (Print), 1095-9203 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1228806)

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Abstract

Plant defense compounds occur in floral nectar, but their ecological role is not well understood. We provide evidence that plant compounds pharmacologically alter pollinator behavior by enhancing their memory of reward. Honeybees rewarded with caffeine, which occurs naturally in nectar of Coffea and Citrus species, were three times as likely to remember a learned floral scent as were honeybees rewarded with sucrose alone. Caffeine potentiated responses of mushroom body neurons involved in olfactory learning and memory by acting as an adenosine receptor antagonist. Caffeine concentrations in nectar did not exceed the bees' bitter taste threshold, implying that pollinators impose selection for nectar that is pharmacologically active but not repellent. By using a drug to enhance memories of reward, plants secure pollinator fidelity and improve reproductive success.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Supplementary Materials - available at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6124/1202/suppl/DC1.
Uncontrolled Keywords: caffeine, honeybee, memory Coffea, Citrus
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
Q Science > QL Zoology
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: 09 Oct 2014 14:01
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/9874

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