The evolution of the orchid and the orchid bee

September 26, 2011


Which came first? The classic chicken/egg question is often asked when it comes to the co-evolution of plants and their pollinators.



A new study in Science led by Santiago Ramirez ,  post-doctoral researcher in the Tsutsui Lab, has found that the orchid bee evolved at least 12 millions years earlier than the orchid. It's the orchids that are trying to catch up.

This research has disturbing implications for plants, given the current global decline in bee populations. Notes Ramirez: “Many of these orchids don’t produce any other type of reward, such as nectar, that would attract other species of bee pollinators. If you lose one species of bee, you could lose three to four species of orchids.”


Learn more:

Bees outpace orchids in evolution The evolution of the orchid and the orchid bee

Santiago Ramirez

The Tsutsui Lab