Some plants use caffeine to lure bees in...

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LaDan

#1: Post by LaDan »

NY Times has this article today, in the science section.

Where Bees Get Their Buzz: Caffeine-Laced Nectar
Nothing kicks the brain in gear like a jolt of caffeine. For bees, that is.

And they don't need to stand in line for a triple soy latte. A new study shows that the naturally caffeine-laced nectar of some plants enhances the learning process for bees, so that they are more likely to return to those flowers.

"The plant is using this as a drug to change a pollinator's behavior for its own benefit," said Geraldine Wright, a honeybee brain specialist at Newcastle University in England, who, with her colleagues, reported those findings in Science on Thursday.

The research, other scientists said, not only casts a new light on the ancient evolutionary interaction between plants and pollinators, but is an intriguing confirmation of deep similarities in brain chemistry across the animal kingdom.
Rest of the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/scien ... -find.html

MerleApAmber

#2: Post by MerleApAmber »

The author hints at commonality with mammalian process, but doesn't say that caffeine actually plays off adenosine receptor blocking as it does in humans. Interesting there appears to be commonality with the benefit of low level repetitive behaviors. Nice find La Dan.
Cheers,
-Chris

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LaDan

#3: Post by LaDan »

RapidCoffee wrote:Actually, this is thought-provoking. I always assumed that caffeine evolved as the coffee plant's chemical defense mechanism against predators. Instead, the molecule may be an attractor for pollinators. Cool!
The article touches on that. Saying "it's all in the dosage". High concentration, toxin level in the leafs deter animals from eating the plant, but low dosage in the flower's nectar helps pollination.

So the plant double uses the caffeine. Both for protection and alluring.