3D Printing and Orchid pollination

Members of the Orchid family are known to have some of the most complex and deceitful pollination mechanisms. These masters of mimicry do not often rely on the traditional lure of food rewards such as nectar, instead they use modified  floral parts that are designed to deceive! Telipogon sarae  an orchid native to Ecuador, is a “bee mimic”, the flowers modified lip looks decisively like a very hairy bee, which attracts potential pollinators who are looking to reproduce. Science magazine has just written an article highlighting the dastardly deeds of Dracula lafleuri,  a species that attracts pollinators by having a lip that is designed to mimic the structure of a fungus. See how the researchers used 3D printing to explore the tricks Dracula employs, to lure small flies for pollination.

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Telipogon sarae

Photo credit header image (Dracula lafleuri): Aleah Davis, New Phytologist, 2016