During the flu season, we all try to be a little more vigilant when it comes to germs. Even as a self-proclaimed “germaphobe,” I was not as lucky to escape the evil grasp of the disease. Aside from recognizing the obvious perpetrators, who include those who refuse to cover their mouths, people who breathe just a little too close to me, and grimy freshmen, I wanted to find out a little more about the origin of diseases.
An interesting area of research regarding the topic is being pioneered by Scott McArt and Lynn Adler of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They are investigating how great a role flowers play in the transmission of diseases. Around 190 studies having to do with flowers and diseases they pass on have been dated back to the lat 1940’s. This research is important because it can “help efforts to control economically devastating pollinator-vectored plant pathogens.” Still, this topic is very new and not as conclusive as many would think. Despite this fact, “eight major groups of animal pathogens that are potentially transmitted at flowers” (by bees and other pollinators) have been discovered. It is unknown whether pathogens are transmitted via the chemical or physical traits of flowers.
The main goal of the study was to attention to the need to further explore the relationship between flowers, their pollinators and diseases, as many people have expressed concern for “the pollinator declines caused in part by pathogens.” Do you agree that this is an area worth researching?