Soap bubble pollination is now live!
Approximately 90 percent of flowering plants depend on insect pollinators to reproduce, and pollination is thus critical to most major crops around the world. However, the number of insect pollinators is dramatically decreasing due to the climate change and abuse of pesticides etc. Besides, conventional pollinations like hand pollination using cotton swab or feather brush are hard work for farmers. A convenient and automatic pollination method is substantially attractive for these worldwide issues.
Prof. Eijiro Miyako from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) has developed new pollination method using chemically functionalized soap bubbles and robotic drone technology for autonomous pollination. They found functional soap bubbles could transfer pollen grains to the targeted flowers by a bubble gun or a bubble machine with a robotic drone. They tested the performances of the soap bubbles using a bubble gun at the pear orchard. Many young pear fruits were consequently born by this technology.
Paper titled "Soap Bubble Pollination", published in interdisciplinary journal iScience (Cell Press), DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.101188
The work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) and (B), the KAKENHI Fund for the Promotion of Joint International Research.
Figure 1. Photo of a chemically functionalized soap bubble containing pollen grains on a campanula flower.