Plants combine color and fragrance to procure pollinators

Who knew that it's possible to predict the fragrance of a flower by looking at its color?

This is true for many of the 41 insect-pollinated plant species growing in a Phrygana scrubland habitat on the Greek island of Lesbos. An international research team published their findings Sept. 4 in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The team investigated the way these plants communicate with a diverse assemblage of insect pollinators in the same community. They discovered a link between the color of the flowers and their fragrance, such that the two characteristics can be regarded as one integrated signal.

This is the first study to demonstrate color-fragrance integration for an entire plant community.

"This result shocked us because we collected and analyzed the data in a blind and unbiased way, and because previous studies had not even considered the possibility of scent-color coordination," said Robert Raguso, professor of neurobiology and behavior, who participated in the study.

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