With global climate change, animals and plants are adapting to a changing environment. For example, new research shows that plants have been changing their UV-sensitive pigments for the past 75 years.
UV pigments are invisible to the human eye, although through them plants attract insects and they also perform a protective function against the sun. Excess UV radiation, like humans, is sometimes harmful to plants. It can damage plant dust. The more ultraviolet radiation the plant contains, the less harmful it is to radiation.
Researchers have noticed in their time that plants that grow on the equator or in areas above sea level have an abundance of UV pigments. The reason for this is that ultraviolet radiation predominates in these areas. Because human activity has damaged the ozone layer and caused global warming, scientists have wondered how it affected plants.
To find out, the researchers collected 42 species of plants and 1,238 flowers and photographed them with a UV-sensitive camera. Some of the material collected dates back to 1941.
The researchers found that from 1941 to 2017, the amount of flower pigment increased by 2% annually. However, these changes are different in different species of plants.
“While this finding is strange, the reasons are quite logical,” said Charles Davis, a plant biologist at Harvard University.
Although UV pigment is invisible to humans, it is quite important to insects. According to scientists, insects notice the UV pigment in flowers better when the pigments are distributed on the plant on the principle of “bull’s eye”. The reason for this is not well studied, though Davis says a similar pattern helps insects pick out the pigmented part of the plant.
The problem is that in the presence of excessive UV pigment the pattern is violated, which is why insects can start lining the flowers. This will be very harmful to ecosystems as insects play an important role in pollination and plant reproduction.