Honeybees use floral odours to help locate, identify and recognise the flowers from which they forage.
The University of Southampton research team, led by Dr Tracey Newman and Professor Guy Poppy, found that the changes may affect honeybees' foraging efficiency and, ultimately, could affect pollination and thus global food security.
The study mixed eight chemicals found in the odour of oil rapeseed flowers with clean air and with air containing diesel exhaust.
Six of the eight chemicals reduced in volume when mixed with the diesel exhaust air and two of them disappeared completely within a minute, meaning the profile of the chemical mix had completely changed.
The odour that was mixed with the clean air was unaffected.
When the researchers used the same process with NOx gases (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide), found in diesel exhaust, they saw the same outcome, suggesting that NOx was a key facilitator in how and why the odour's profile was altered.
The changed chemical mix was then shown to honeybees, which could not recognise it.
The study has been published in Scientific Reports.
--ANI (Posted on 04-10-2013)