30 March, 2015

Feeding behaviour of the dawn bat promotes cross pollination of economically important plants in Southeast Asia

by Pushpa Raj Acharya, Paul A Racey, Sunthorn Sothibandhu and Sara Bumrungsri

Dawn bat drinking nectar from a Parkia Capitulum
One of Paul Racey’s first duties as a new lecturer in the University of Aberdeen in 1974 was to act as internal examiner for Anthony Start’s PhD thesis on the ecology of Eonycteris spelaea in peninsula Malaysia. Start had made the intriguing discovery of mangrove (Sonneratia) pollen in the faeces of Eonycteris in a roost 38km from the nearest mangrove swamp, providing convincing evidence of long distance foraging. Forty years later, Racey’s former PhD student and now Professor, Sara Bumrungsri has revealed the critical role of Eonycteris in pollinating Durio and Parkia, with crop values of USD 137 million in Southern Thailand, crucial to local livelihoods. 

Read the whole summary in: English or Thai!
Read the scientific publication in JPE.

23 March, 2015

Bent stigmas in the perfect flowers of the monoecious Jatropha curcas promote automatic self-pollination

A perfect flower with stigma bent over an anther. Scale bar 1cm.

by Y. Vaknin, Y. Samocha and D. Eisikowitch

The occurrence of perfect flowers alongside staminate and pistillate ones, in the monoecious biodiesel plant Jatropha curcas L., was previously reported as rare and often dismissed as having no specific functionality.  

Here we report that perfect flowers were almost exclusive to the beginning of the blooming season and were directly associated with stigmas bending over fertile anthers, as early as in the mature bud stage. It is our premise, that the occurrence of perfect flowers with bent stigmas promotes automatic self-pollination in a period when conditions are unfavorable for pollination.

Read the whole summary in: Hebrew!
Read the scientific publication in JPE.