Hidden and useful beauties

Hidden and useful beauties
Fecha de publicación: 
24 July 2022
Imagen principal: 

It is not a last-minute discovery. But its beauty is no less surprising.

It is already known that flowers show colors and brightness invisible to the human eye and they can only be captured under ultraviolet light.

At first sight, humans do not see it, but most pollinating insects, such as bees and butterflies, can see it and this is one more attraction of the flower to guarantee the plant reproduction.

The flower heading this text is the so-called Estrella del norte (North Star), with the scientific name Coreopsis tinctoria Nutt, and although it is not one of the most abundant in Cuban gardens, according to a research conducted by Jardín Botanico Nacional (National Botanical Garden), it can be found in some.

In any case, even if it were among the most common decorative plants, we could not enjoy the beauties that the image reveals.

There are many other flowers that absorb ultraviolet (UV) light and in turn, show different UV patterns, a unique way of "communicating."

In the case of sunflowers, researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered that the same molecules that produce the aforementioned UV patterns also help the plant to respond to stress situations such as drought or extreme temperatures.

These researchers concluded that a single gene, HaMYB111, is responsible for most of these UV floral patterns. It is responsible for controlling the production of flavonol compounds, which absorb ultraviolet light and also help plants cope with environmental stress.

This uniqueness of the flowers ratifies, once again, and in a very beautiful way, what the Little Prince said: “What is essential is invisible to the eyes…”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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