Without pollination, no reproduction of flowering plants. Without bees to transport the pollen, more nature. French researchers have just discovered that it was not so simple: the phenomenon of pollination actually began in the oceans, long before the famous foragers. Like bees passing from flower to flower, crustaceans go from red algae (Gracilaria gracilis) to red algae, and allow the transport of spermatia from the algae, similar to pollen.
The face of pollination has just been changed by the fruit of two decades of research of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Roscoff, under the direction of Myriam Valéro and Christophe Destombes. These marine biologists have indeed managed to shed light on the fact that crustaceans pollinate seaweed just as bees do for flowers. It is the surprising density of these crustaceans in these seaweeds that will have put them on the alert. The idotées (Idotea balthica), very small crustaceans with the false air of shrimps of barely a centimeter long, thus pass from red algae to red algae. Exchange of good practices under the waves: while the idotées allow the pollination of red algae, they do not feed on it and protect themselves from predators.
In 2016, scientists had already demonstrated that zooplankton pollinated a sea grass in the Caribbean. This new discovery from researchers based in Brittany, whose research results were published in the journal Science, also postpones the dating of the phenomenon of pollination: while we were talking about 140 million years for flowering plants, red algae have existed for more than 800 million years, well before the first terrestrial plants. On our blue planet, where eyes often turn more to the land than to the seas, this discovery is a reminder of the crucial importance of the biodiversity of the oceans, and of their protection against pollution and the concretization of the coasts.
This article is published from Selection of the day.
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