Finding Flowers Gets Harder amid Competing Smells
Insects follow the odors of flowers to find their next nectar nibble, but a new study reports that competing odors, including manmade odors, make this task harder by altering odor perception of the target odor in the insects’ brains. Until now, scientists haven’t known much about how insects discriminate the odors of certain flowers amid the variety of natural and manmade odors in the air. The work of Riffell et al. reveals that both target odor frequency and odor background content dictate the ability of an insect to track a target scent. Changes to the natural odor background, potentially by human-produced odors, could make finding target flowers more difficult for pollinators.
Read more about this research from the 27 June issue of Science here.
[Image courtesy of Kiley Riffell. Please click here for more information.]
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