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3059Re: [Pollinator] pollination improves strawberry shelf life

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  • Peter Bernhardt
    Dec 4, 2013
      Dear David:

      Thanks for finding this paper.  One of the next papers of the Bernhardt/Meier lab  will address fieldwork on bee-pollination of Cypripedium montanum (Oregon) but, at one of our sites, the orchids bloomed at the same time as two, extensive populations of native strawberry varieties.  The orchid and the strawberry flowers shared pollinators in the families Andrenidae and Halictidae.  

      Considering the physical size of strawberry flowers one wonders whether cross-pollinated fruit set in domesticated strawberries would be higher when pollinated by small, native bees or by commercial honeybees?  Do honeybees carrying pollen "hit" the tiny stigmas in each flower as often and as thoroughly as tiny, solitary bees?


      On Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM, David Inouye <inouye@...> wrote:
      Klatt, B. K., et al. (2014). "Bee pollination improves crop quality, shelf life and commercial value." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281(1775).

               Pollination improves the yield of most crop species and contributes to one-third of global crop production, but comprehensive benefits including crop quality are still unknown. Hence, pollination is underestimated by international policies, which is particularly alarming in times of agricultural intensification and diminishing pollination services. In this study, exclusion experiments with strawberries showed bee pollination to improve fruit quality, quantity and market value compared with wind and self-pollination. Bee-pollinated fruits were heavier, had less malformations and reached higher commercial grades. They had increased redness and reduced sugar and were firmer, thus improving the commercially important shelf life. Longer shelf life reduced fruit loss by at least 11%. This is accounting for 0.32 billion US$ of the 1.44 billion US$ provided by bee pollination to the total value of 2.90 billion US$ made with strawberry selling in the European Union 2009. The fruit quality and yield effects are driven by the pollination-mediated production of hormonal growth regulators, which occur in several pollination-dependent crops. Thus, our comprehensive findings should be transferable to a wide range of crops and demonstrate bee pollination to be a hitherto underestimated but vital and economically important determinant of fruit quality.

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