Does desert time exist?
|Desert flowers synchronize their scent emissions according to their local habitat conditions and their phylogenetic origin|
|Prof. Merav Seifan*, Dr. Vered Tzin*|
|January 2, 2022|
* The Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental & Energy Research
In a study conducted by the working groups of Dr. Vered Tzin French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands and Prof. Merav Seifan The Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental & Energy Research, and led by Dr. Alon Cna'ani and Efrat Dener, these researchers asked whether additional factors, including genetic and environmental ones, affect the composition and timing of scent release in desert plants.
The study’s findings showed that the timing and composition of scent emission were governed by the combination of genetic relatedness and two environmental factors: minimum winter temperature and the amount of sand in the plant’s growth site, probably because sand affects the immediate water availability to the growing plants. Overall, plant species whose distribution is associated mainly with arid regions, where water is more limited and temperatures are warmer, tended to emit smell in a more unified way, throughout the 24 hours, than species with a Mediterranean distribution, which emitted smell mainly during the day.
Pollinator observations showed that there is a direct connection between the timing and composition of smell emission and pollinator attraction to the plants. The researchers suggested that these findings indicate that species growing in desert habitats adapt their smell emission to better capture the more limited activity of pollinators under the limited resource availability in these regions. The study contributes to the general understanding of global climate change and its potential impact on plants, pollinators, and their interactions. Because climate change is predicted to increase winter temperatures and intensify desertification, it may significantly affect the timing and composition of smell emission, jeopardizing the effectiveness of pollination services.