Metabolomic Profiling of Nicotiana Spp. Nectars Indicate That Pollinator Feeding Preference Is a Stronger Determinant Than Plant Phylogenetics in Shaping Nectar Diversity
Floral nectar is a rich secretion produced by the nectary gland and is offered as reward to attract pollinators leading to improved seed set. Nectars are composed of a complex mixture of sugars, amino acids, proteins, vitamins, lipids, organic and inorganic acids. This composition is influenced by several factors, including floral morphology, mechanism of nectar secretion, time of flowering, and visitation by pollinators. The objective of this study was to determine the contributions of flowering time, plant phylogeny, and pollinator selection on nectar composition in Nicotiana. The main classes of nectar metabolites (sugars and amino acids) were quantified using gas chromatography/mass spectrometric analytical platforms to identify differences among fifteen Nicotiana species representing day- and night-flowering plants from ten sections of the genus that are visited by five different primary pollinators. The nectar metabolomes of different Nicotiana species can predict the feeding preferences of the target pollinator(s) of each species, and the nectar sugars (i.e., glucose, fructose, and sucrose) are a distinguishing feature of Nicotiana species phylogeny. Moreover, comparative statistical analysis indicate that pollinators are a stronger determinant of nectar composition than plant phylogeny.
This article is published as Silva, Fredy A., Elizabeth C. Chatt, Siti-Nabilla Mahalim, Adel Guirgis, Xingche Guo, Daniel S. Nettleton, Basil J. Nikolau, and Robert W. Thornburg. "Metabolomic Profiling of Nicotiana Spp. Nectars Indicate That Pollinator Feeding Preference Is a Stronger Determinant Than Plant Phylogenetics in Shaping Nectar Diversity." Metabolites 10 (2020): 214. doi: 10.3390/metabo10050214.