Sunflowers’ invisible colours are revealed: UV bullseye pattern attracts pollinating insects and helps the plant regulate water loss, study reveals
News Source: Daily Mail
Jan 21, 2022
“It exemplifies the complexity and efficiency of adaptation — solving two problems with a single trait” – Dr Loren Rieseberg
CSFS Associates Dr. Marco Todesco and Dr. Loren Rieseberg, research associate and professor, respectively, at UBC’s biodiversity research centre and department of botany were interviewed about their recent study revealing how sunflowers’ UV patterns vary depending on climate. Floral UV patterns are already known to enhance pollination, but this study suggests that they also regulate water loss from flowers.
The researchers found that a single gene, HaMYB111, controls the production of UV-absorbing flavonol compounds, which help flowers survive under different environmental stresses. Larger floral UV patterns appear in drier environments reducing water loss, and smaller floral UV patterns in hot humid settings enhance evaporation and improve cooling. Dr. Todesco claims these findings are valuable in helping us “understand how sunflowers, and potentially other plants, better adapt to different areas or temperatures, which could be important in a warming climate”.