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The Problem with Nasty Nectar By Jennifer Cutraro

Summary: The Problem with Nasty Nectar
By Jennifer Cutraro
ScienceNOW Daily News
18 November 2005
It's a classic plant dilemma: Flowers rely on animals to
distribute their pollen, but they must protect themselves
against "nectar robbers" that take the good stuff and
run. To fight back, some flowers add toxic or distasteful
compounds to their nectar. But a new study suggests
this strategy results in fewer offspring, leaving some
scientists to wonder if it's better to just let the robbers
have their way.
When two species adapt in response to one another--a
process called coevolution--both can benefit. An oft-
cited example is the partnership between acacia trees
and Pseudomyrmex ants, with the tree providing food
and housing for the insect, and the insect defending the
tree from herbivores. Coevolution also may lead to
antagonistic partnerships, however, and some
scientists have suggested that toxic nectar arose as a


Source: Adler, Lynn - Department of Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences, University of Massachusetts at Amherst


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology