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Ageing and Society, 35 8 , Together, these plant hormones induce fruit growth by improving cell progeny and size, thereby enhancing the weight of strawberry fruits [ 12 ]. This further improves fruit quality and thereby commercial grades [ 12 ] by preventing malformations, which are caused by areas of unfertilized and thus physiologically inactive achenes [ 33 ]. How can pollination induce a longer shelf life in strawberries? The shelf life of strawberries and other fruits is mostly dependent on their firmness [ 15 , 33 ], which is also functionally based on fertilized achenes [ 33 ] and thus dependent on successful pollination.

Auxin and gibberellic acid delay fruit-softening and thereby enhance firmness and shelf life, by limiting the expression of several fruit-softening proteins, the so-called expansins [ 11 ]. Higher levels of both plant hormones also increase the post-harvest quality of strawberries.

Although auxin alone reduces the accumulation of anthocyanins [ 11 ], high levels of both auxin and gibberellic acid can, in conjunction, increase anthocyanin accumulation [ 12 ]. In contrast to firmness and colour changes, sugar—acid—ratios of strawberries are not directly affected by auxin and gibberellic acid [ 12 ].

But higher firmness of fruits is associated with more stable cell walls which might reduce respiration, which is known to limit metabolic processes affecting sugar and acid contents during storage [ 19 ]. Indirect positive effects of pollination are therefore probable. Plant hormones that can influence the quality of fruits and vegetables are known to occur not only in strawberries, but also in several other crops [ 36 ] that require animal pollination [ 7 ]. Crops such as coffee [ 37 ] and blueberry [ 38 ] benefit from animal pollination in terms of fruit set and fruit size; and it has been shown elsewhere that fruit shape can benefit from increased animal pollination [ 7 ].

This indicates that our findings may be transferable to a high variety of crops and that animal pollination may largely contribute to crop quality. However, only few studies have focused to date on effects of pollination other than the effects on crop yield and fruit set. It has been shown that the sugar content of loquats [ 24 , 26 ], vine cactus [ 25 ] and oriental melon [ 22 ] as well as the firmness of oriental melon [ 22 ] and cucumber [ 23 ] can be increased by animal pollination.

Contrasting results are available for the tomato, whereas Al-Attal et al. Oilseed rape is another important crop whose quality benefits from insect pollination by higher oil content and lower chlorophyll content [ 39 ]. These results support the assumption of a general impact of pollination on multiple aspects of crop quality.

However, such comprehensive findings about the benefits of pollination on crop quality, yield and commercial value as in our study, which can be mechanistically well linked to formerly reported physiological processes, have never, to our knowledge, been reported before.

Bee pollination improves crop quality, shelf life and commercial value

Our results showed strawberries to be almost exclusively visited by bees, with solitary wild bees being most abundant. This contrasts with earlier findings, where honeybees were the most common pollinators of strawberries and other crops [ 7 ] and further shows that the wild bee pollination can be important for crop production, if wild bees are abundant close to crop fields.

Wild bee pollinators have already been shown to be effective crop pollinators [ 40 ], including strawberries [ 41 ]. Additional experiments are required to assess the current abundance of wild bee pollinators and thus their importance for strawberry production on commercial strawberry fields under conventional management conditions. In our study, we used an innovative approach to the calculation of the commercial value of pollination by considering not only overall yield [ 2 , 3 ] but also crop quality in terms of trade classes, shelf life and changing market values.

Shelf life is a major factor determining the commercial value of pollination. Globally, between one-third and a half of all fruits and vegetables are lost due to mechanical damage and deterioration during handling, transport and storage directly after harvest, or wasted at retailer and consumer levels [ 42 ]. This illustrates the commercial and social importance of crop shelf life and the far-reaching impact of pollination deficits. Of course, our calculations may still underestimate the commercial value of bee pollination as they are not considering commercial pollination benefits related to colour, sugar—acid—ratio and other taste components.

In conclusion, our results showed that crop pollination is of higher economic importance than hitherto thought. Plant hormones, the production of which is mediated by pollination, occur in several other pollination-dependent fruits and vegetables [ 36 ].

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This highlights the major importance of animal pollination for crop quality in other crops in addition to strawberries. Quality improvements of crops can greatly affect marketability and contribute to reducing food loss and waste. Under the current scenario of rapid human population increase and global food demand [ 43 ], achieving high quality and quantity of crops is a pressing issue. Pollination appears to be economically much more important than previously recognized and needs better support through adequate agricultural management and policy.

Klatt for comments on the manuscript and N. Garibaldi for reviewing the manuscript prior to submission. We thank the members, students and technicians of the agroecology group for their field assistance. We only request your email address so that the person you are recommending the page to knows that you wanted them to see it, and that it is not junk mail. We do not capture any email address. Large datasets are available through Proceedings B 's partnership with Dryad. Skip to main content. Published 4 December Abstract Pollination improves the yield of most crop species and contributes to one-third of global crop production, but comprehensive benefits including crop quality are still unknown.

Introduction Agricultural production forms one of the most important economic sectors [ 1 ]. Results a Commercial value i Weight and commercial grades Strawberry flowers were mainly visited by bees View inline View popup. Discussion We found bee pollination, which was mainly conducted by solitary wild bees, to play a key role for several features of the quantity and quality of strawberry fruits. Conclusion In conclusion, our results showed that crop pollination is of higher economic importance than hitherto thought.

Acknowledgements We thank, K. Food and Agricultural Organaziation of the United Nations. B , — Planta , — Csukasi F , et al. OpenUrl Web of Science. Fruits 58 , — Dag A , Mizrahi Y. R Development Core Team. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Isaacs R , Kirk AK. Oecologia , — Garibaldi LA , et al. Science , — FAO study report, pp. Search for this keyword.

Bee pollination improves crop quality, shelf life and commercial value. B ; DOI: You are going to email the following Bee pollination improves crop quality, shelf life and commercial value. Biological Sciences web site. Please log in to add an alert for this article. Conclusion Funding statement Acknowledgements References. Best of all, it's free. Did you know that since , Biblio has used its profits to build 12 public libraries in rural villages of South America? Biblio is a marketplace for book collectors comprised of thousands of independent, professional booksellers, located all over the world, who list their books for sale online so that customers like you can find them!

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