Research: Air Pollution Changes Scent of Flowers & Confuses Insects

A new research study indicates that air pollution is significantly harming the pollination process as it makes it harder for insects to locate flowers.

The research study concluded that air pollution reduces the scenes produced by flowers, which then attract insects for pollination.

Air Pollution & Pollination

Scientists at the University of Washington discovered that nitrate radicals (NO3), commonly found in the air due to air pollution, alter the scent-based cues that insects rely on.

NO3 is released from multiple energy sources, such as gas and coal combustion from cars, power plants, and other sources.

The compound is known to react with substances released by flowers, altering their smell.

NO3 Reducing Flower’s Reach

Researcher Jeff Riffell said NO3 is red using flowers reach and becomes non-existent to insects.

“The NO3 is really reducing a flower’s ‘reach’ — how far its scent can travel and attract a pollinator before it gets broken down,” Riffell said.

Pollination is an important factor in the production of food, contributing around $24 billion to the US economy.

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