Skip to content

Buzz pollination

Buzz pollination: Bee vibrations and floral evolution

Among plants, more than 20,000 of flowering plants have evolved flowers that require vibrations to release significant amounts of pollen.

Pollen plays a key role in the life of both bees and plants. Bees need pollen as a source of protein to feed their larvae, and plants rely on it for fertilising and producing seeds. It is no surprise that bees have evolved a variety of strategies to collect pollen grains from flowers, among which is the use of powerful vibrations to dislodge and collect pollen from certain flowers. Although more than half of all bee species use vibrations to collect pollen from flowers, we still do not know why some bees buzz for pollen and others do not. The specialised morphologies of these buzz-pollinated flowers is thought to have evolved as a mechanism to restrict pollen access in a evolutionary interplay between plants and their buzzing visitors. The last few years have seen a rapid increase in buzz pollination research from biomechanic studies of vibrations to phylogenetic investigations to ecological and evolutionary analyses. However, we are still at the early stages of fully understanding the phenomenon of buzz pollination. In this talk I will talk about what is buzz pollination and how it works, and present results from my lab, focusing on recent findings of how floral vibrations differ from other types of vibrations produced by bees and how closely related plant species have evolved contrasting strategies to release pollen following bee vibrations.

Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin from the University of Stirling (U.K.) presents his work in the video below (online seminar talk given on 18 August 2020.

For more information about our seminars and future announcements, please contact Hervé Sauquet.