Flowers evolve to have “less sex”

"Some may become extinct"

2 mins read
Flowers evolve to have "less sex"

Scientists in France have found that flowers have evolved to “have less sex”.

A study by scientists from the University of Montpellier found that humans are changing the mating balance of plants.

According to the study, published in the scientific journal New Phytologist Foundation, the population of bees and other pollinators is declining due to toxic pesticides and habitat loss. For this reason, some flowers have evolved to fertilize their own seeds more often than those of other plants.

“This is a very rapid evolution,” said Pierre-Olivier Cheptou, who led the research focusing on field violets, noting that this change took place in just 20 generations.

Field violets usually use bumblebees to reproduce. But they can also use their own pollen to fertilize their seeds. According to scientists, this method of self-reproduction has become more favorable for the flowers because they don’t have to wait for bees in the current situation.

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Researchers compared field violet seeds collected in state-owned botanical greenhouses in the 1990s and 2000s with new ones. When flowers sprouted from seeds grown side by side in the laboratory under similar conditions, the new field violets showed a 27 percent increase in self-reproduction rates.

It was also reported that the part of the flower that carries the reproductive organs is 10 percent smaller and produces 20 percent less nectar.

Cheptou pointed to the decline in the number of bees and other pollinators and said that other plants may evolve in a similar direction.

The scientist also reminded that the ability to self-fertilize is genetically limited and pointed out that this could lead to the extinction of plants that cannot adapt after a certain point.


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