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Understanding flowers and their pollinators: The role of petal texture in the pollination of wild tobaccos

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Antonio M. M. Rodrigues.

The surface of the petal is the first point of contact between flowers and their pollinators. The cells on the surface of the petal can be of different shapes, from conical with pointing tips extending out the surface of the petal, to dome-shaped to flat. Conical cells may increase grip for insect pollinators and enhance flower colouration compared to non-conical cells. In my research, I use a combination of molecular biology, microscopy and pollinator behaviour experiments with bumblebees, to explore the evolution, development and function of petal cell shape in wild tobaccos (genus Nicotiana). Understanding floral features important for pollination in this integrated way, allows us to contribute to tackling current problems of our changing planet. We can inform the design of strategies to conserve plants and their animal pollinators and collaborate with plant breeders to optimize crop pollination and ensure food security.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Science Society talks series.

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