La Oferta

July 4, 2022

Chilean scientists using math models to improve pollination

Santiago, Aug 19 (EFE).- A team of Chilean scientists is using mathematical models to improve the pollination of plants within the framework of a project to predict the behavior of terrestrial ecosystems, researchers told EFE.

Fotografía cedida por el Centro de Genómica, Ecología y Medioambiente (GEMA) de la Universidad Mayor, que muestra al investigador chileno Rodrigo Ramos Jiliberto. Un equipo de científicos chilenos ha recurrido a modelos matemáticos en busca de mejorar la polinización de las plantas, en el marco de un trabajo que procura predecir el comportamiento de los ecosistemas terrestres, dijeron a Efe los investigadores. EFE

The project is geared toward understanding ecological systems on the basis of equations and computer simulations and is being pursued by a team of researchers from the Universidad Mayor de Chile’s Genomics, Ecology and Environmental Center (GEMA).

Their work, published recently in Nature Communications magazine, focuses on analyzing the interactions of wild plants and invasive species of pollinators with the aim of preserving the planet’s biodiversity.

The noted that more than 70 percent of the main crops grown for human consumption require pollination, but in recent years there has been a significant decline in the number of insects and other species that perform that task.

The possibility that the problem could endanger land-based ecosystems, thus harming the production of food and other key materials for humanity, is the reason that the team launched its study to analyze the large-scale dynamics of interaction between plants and pollinators.

“We know that approximately 90 percent of the above-ground plants depend totally or partially, for their reproduction, on pollination by insects and, in particular, bees,” said Rodrigue Ramos Juliberto, the team leader.

He added that the team developed a mathematical model of the biological systems so that it could quickly analyze – via computer simulations – various results and possibilities using “ecological theory.”

This “allows us to deal with questions that are very difficult to answer with traditional experimental tools,” the team leader said.

Ramos Jiliberto said that there is a worldwide crisis affecting bees, which are the main pollinators of most plants that humans consume, and this decline in the bee population is due to destruction of natural habitats, contamination by agrochemicals, climate change and assorted pathogens that affect the insects.

The project is aimed at balancing the various factors so that beneficial results can be obtained for both plants and pollinators.