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      Nectar Replaced by Volatile Secretion: A Potential New Role for Nectarless Flowers in a Bee-Pollinated Plant Species


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          The presence of nectarless flowers in nectariferous plants is a widespread phenomenon in angiosperms. However, the frequency and distribution of nectarless flowers in natural populations, and the transition from nectariferous to nectarless flowers are poorly known. Variation in nectar production may affect mutualism stability, since energetic resource availability influences pollinators’ foraging behavior. Here, we described the spatial and temporal nectar production patterns of Jacaranda oxyphylla, a bee-pollinated species that naturally presents nectarless flowers. Additionally, we compared nectariferous and nectarless floral disks in order to identify histological, subcellular and chemical changes that accompanied the loss of nectar production ability. For that we used standard methods for light and transmission electron microscopy, and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry for chemical analyses. We verified that 47% of flowers did not produce nectar during the whole flower lifespan (nectarless flowers). We also observed remarkable inter-plant variation, with individuals having only nectarless flowers, others only nectariferous ones and most of them showing different proportions of both flower types, with variable nectar volumes (3–21 μl). Additionally, among nectariferous flowers, we registered two distinct rhythms of nectar production. ‘Early’ flowers produced nectar from 0 to 24 h, and ‘late’ flowers produced nectar from 24 to 48 h of anthesis. Although disks from nectariferous and nectarless flowers displayed similar histological organization, they differed strongly at subcellular level. Nectariferous (‘early’ and ‘late’) flowers exhibited a cellular apparatus typical of nectar secretion, while nectarless flowers exhibited osmophoric features. We found three aliphatic and one aromatic compound(s) that were detected in both the headspace of flowers and the disks of nectarless flowers, but not the disks of nectariferous flowers Although the remarkable variation in nectar availability may discourage pollinator visits, nectarless flowers might compensate it by producing volatile compounds that can be part of floral scent, acting as chemical attractants. Thus, nectarless flowers may be helping to maintain pollination in this scenario of trophic resource supply scarcity. We suggest that J. oxyphylla can be transitioning from a nectar-based pollination system to another resource-based or even to a deceit mechanism of pollination.

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          A number of aposematic butterfly and diurnal moth species sequester unpalatable or toxic substances from their host plants rather than manufacturing their own defensive substances. Despite a great diversity in their life histories, there are some general features in the selective utilization of plant secondary metabolites to achieve effective protection from predators. This review illustrates the biochemical, physiological, and ecological characteristics of phytochemical-based defense systems that can shed light on the evolution of the widely developed sequestering lifestyles among the Lepidoptera.
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              What does it cost a plant to produce floral nectar?


                Author and article information

                Front Plant Sci
                Front Plant Sci
                Front. Plant Sci.
                Frontiers in Plant Science
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                05 September 2018
                : 9
                : 1243
                [1] 1Laboratory of Ecology and Evolution of Plant-Animal Interactions, Department of Botany, Institute of Biosciences, São Paulo State University , Botucatu, Brazil
                [2] 2Graduation Program in Biological Sciences, Laboratory of Ecology and Evolution of Plant-Animal Interactions, Department of Botany, Institute of Biosciences, São Paulo State University , Botucatu, Brazil
                [3] 3Laboratory of Phytomedicine, Pharmacology and Biotechnology, Department of Pharmacology, São Paulo State University , Botucatu, Brazil
                [4] 4Department of Biosciences, University of Salzburg , Salzburg, Austria
                [5] 5Laboratory of Research in Plant Anatomy and Ultrastructure, Department of Botany and Centre of Electron Microscopy, Institute of Biosciences, São Paulo State University , Botucatu, Brazil
                Author notes

                Edited by: Massimo Nepi, University of Siena, Italy

                Reviewed by: Małgorzata Stpiczyńska, University of Warsaw, Poland; Marzena Masierowska, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland

                *Correspondence: Elza Guimarães, elza.guimaraes@ 123456unesp.br Silvia R. Machado, silvia.machado@ 123456unesp.br

                This article was submitted to Plant Evolution and Development, a section of the journal Frontiers in Plant Science

                Copyright © 2018 Guimarães, Tunes, Almeida Junior, Di Stasi, Dötterl and Machado.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 27 March 2018
                : 06 August 2018
                Page count
                Figures: 12, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 127, Pages: 23, Words: 0
                Funded by: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo 10.13039/501100001807
                Award ID: PD 2009/17611-7
                Award ID: Biota Program 2008/55434-7
                Funded by: Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico 10.13039/501100003593
                Award ID: Edital Universal 446949/2014-0
                Award ID: Edital MCT 470649/2008-9
                Award ID: PQ Grant to SRMachado
                Plant Science
                Original Research

                Plant science & Botany
                nectar secretion,nectariferous and nectarless flowers,nectary anatomy and ultrastructure,plant–pollinator interactions,volatile compound secretion


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