There Are Pollinators Just Like Bees In The Oceans, Scientists Say

First Posted: Dec 05, 2016 03:00 AM EST

The researchers have discovered that there are pollinators that perform the same tasks as bees in the oceans. They were dubbed by the scientists as the "bees of the sea."

The study was printed in Nature Communications. It was led by Brigitta van Tussenbroek from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and other colleagues. The researchers have found for the first time an evidence of underwater pollination and discovered that there are bees in the sea or creatures that perform the same work just like the bees.

Van Tussenbroek said that there are microscopic crustaceans and tiny marine worms that help pollinate a tropical seagrass known as turtle grass or Thalasia testudinum. She further said that they saw these animals coming in, and they saw some of them carrying pollen.

In the past years, the team filmed a video footage of these tiny invertebrates that are swarming on the turtle grass beds just like the bees on flowers. These animals were drawn to male flowers maybe because to feed off carbohydrate and protein-rich pollen. This resulted in transporting pollen from flower to flower, according to Gizmodo.

The researchers named this type of pollination as zoobethopilous pollination. The team has never thought that animals were involved in pollinating marine plants. To confirm their discovery, the team placed tiny crustaceans to an aquarium of turtle grass. In just minutes, the pollen can be seen on the female flowers. On the other hand, the control tank that did not have crustaceans had no pollen on the flowers. This indicates that tiny crustaceans were transporting pollen from flower to flower and helping to fertilize them, according to Science Alert.

Kelly Darnell from the non-profit research group The Water Institute of the Gulftold said that the pollination by animals can occur adds a wholly new level of complexity to the system. He further said that it describes a very interesting plant-animal interaction that has not fully been described before. This new type of pollination is a contributing factor for the welfare of the ecosystem as the coastal meadows of seagrass are significant ecosystems. 

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