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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2013 Aug;16(4):429-35. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2013.05.002. Epub 2013 Jun 8.

What's the 'buzz' about? The ecology and evolutionary significance of buzz-pollination.

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School of Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences, The College of The Bahamas, Oakes Field Campus, P.O. Box N-4912, Nassau, Bahamas.


Many plant species have evolved floral characteristics that restrict pollen access. Some of these species are visited by insects, principally bees, which make use of vibrations to extract pollen from anthers. Buzz-pollination, as this phenomenon is generally known, is a widespread method of fertilization for thousands of species in both natural and agricultural systems. Despite its prevalence in pollination systems, the ecological and evolutionary conditions that favour the evolution of buzz-pollination are poorly known. We briefly summarize the biology of buzz-pollination and review recent studies on plant and pollinator characteristics that affect pollen removal. We suggest that buzz-pollination evolves as the result of an escalation in the competition between plants and pollen-consuming floral visitors (including pollen thieves and true pollinators) to control the rate of pollen removal from flowers.

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