Iridescence and hydrophobicity have no clear delineation that explains flower petal micro-surface

Jair E. Garcia, Mani Shrestha, Laura Ospina-Rozo, Chaitali Dekiwadia, Matthew R. Field, Ji Sheng Ma, Nhiem Tran, Adrian G. Dyer, Kate Fox, Andrew D. Greentree

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Plant organs including flowers and leaves typically have a variety of different micro-structures present on the epidermal surface. These structures can produce measurable optical effects with viewing angle including shifts in peak reflectance and intensity; however, these different structures can also modulate hydrophobic properties of the surfaces. For some species optical effects have been proposed to act as signals to enhance pollination interactions, whilst the ability to efficiently shed water provides physiological advantages to plants in terms of gas exchange and reducing infections. Currently, little is known about epidermal surface structure of flowering plants in the Southern Hemisphere, and how micro-surface may be related with either hydrophobicity or visual signalling. We measured four Australian native species and two naturalised species using a combination of techniques including SEM imaging, spectral sampling with a goniometer and contact angle measurements. Spectral data were evaluated in relation to published psychophysics results for important pollinators and reveal that potential visual changes, where present, were unlikely to be perceived by relevant pollinators. Nevertheless, hydrophobicity also did not simply explain petal surfaces as similar structures could in some cases result in very different levels of water repellency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10685
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020

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