Pollinating Crustaceans Called Idoteas Are the Bees Of The Seas

If you ask any grade-school child about pollination, they will tell you that bees are largely responsible for it.

Perhaps that is why it is so surprising when the research for underwater pollination moved beyond the original thought of currents and started looking into an interesting isopod.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the isopod that was looked into is known as the idotea.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It seems as if research is showing that they also pollinate the underwater plants, much in the same way as bees pollinate the plants on this side of the surface of the water.

The findings on idoteas were published in Science. The authors of the paper wrote: “The long-held belief that animal-mediated pollination is absent in the sea has recently been contradicted in seagrasses, motivating investigations of other marine phyla.”

Photo: flickr/Jerry Kirkhart

Prior to this study, scientists thought that ocean currents and water flows were responsible for pollinating seagrass and seaweed. Now, they are coming to realize that the idoteas carry that heavy load.

In the research, they used red algae and a number of experiments to show that the isopod being studied increased fertilization when it was in the red algae.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

They looked closely and saw that, at times, the isopod body would pick up spermatia, which is similar to pollen, and carry it to the female plants. In return, the algae gave the idoteas shelter and all of the diatoms they could eat.

There you have it, the bees of the seas.

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