Lost on the breeze: high ozone concentrations mask the scent of flowers to bees

Last updated: 25 Sep, 2015

Schematic showing the design of the study

New research published in New Phytologist shows that high levels of ozone, which are predicted to increase in the atmosphere in the future, can dampen the scents of flowers that attract bees and other pollinators.


The study, by Dr. Gerard Farré-Armengol and colleagues, indicated that high concentrations of ozone in ambient air, such as those caused by urban pollution, reduced the concentration of floral volatiles from Brassica nigra flowers. The greater the distance away from the source – up to 4.5 metres – the greater the effect of ozone on the reduction and composition of flower scent attractive to pollinators. The researchers used mass spectrometry in combination with behavioural trials involving the buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), and found that, at 4.5 metres away from the source, exposure to ozone concentrations of 120 ppb reduced the attractiveness of the scent to the pollinators.


The research suggests that high concentrations of ozone can have a negative impact on pollination, by reducing the distance over which flower scent can be detected by pollinators. Read the full article here.


Read the press release for this article.


Dr Gerard Farré-Armengol and the behavioural study chamber

Image: Dr. Gerard Farré-Armengol and the behavioural chamber used in the study.