Despite more than 200 years of detailed research on pollination, Minnaar said researchers did not know for sure where most of the microscopically-tiny pollen grains land up once they leave flowers.
In an article published in the journal “Methods in Ecology and Evolution” this week, Minnaar described the method, which will enable pollination biologists to track the whole pollination process from the first visit by a pollinator to its endpoint - either successfully transferred to another flower’s stigma or lost along the way.
“Plants produce massive amounts of pollen, but it looks like more than 90% of it never reaches stigmas. For the tiny fraction of pollen grains that make their way to stigmas, the journey is often unclear - which pollinators transferred the grains and from where?”
Minnaar said quantum dots were semiconductor nanocrystals that were so small they behaved like artificial atoms. When exposed to UV light, they emitted extremely bright light in a range of possible colours.