You should thank bats for protecting your Tequila supply

What could possibly link creepy, blood-sucking bats with tequila?

It’s not Batman getting wasted in Dawn of Justice, but the simple fact that the misunderstood creature actually makes tequila possible thanks to being one of the blue agave’s main pollinators.

Bats fly every night to fill themselves up on bugs with energy and to feed their litter, but during these trips, they pollinate agave plants by spreading the seeds that allow new agave to grow. It’s as if nature is serving everything on a silver platter for us. Well, not really.

For decades, many Mexican tequila makers have disregarded this beautiful lifecycle because the process takes longer that they are willing to wait for. The industrial producers prefer reproduction by bulbillo, a process that involves harvesting the agave before it blooms. Then all of the little sprouts that grow from the root are transplanted, which will eventually transform into ripe agave plants that will be ready to make mead. This saves a lot of time, but it wastes a lot of the genetic diversity of the plant. The harvested agaves are also less resistant to plague and fungus, but above all, to the TMA (Sadness and Death of Agave), one of the most resistant group of diseases.

If there’s no genetic diversity, the agave turns susceptible to the bacteria and the fungus will kill it. The pollination from the bats—which takes place when the agave blooms—boosts the resistance of the agave to plague.


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