Floral and extra-floral nectars are secretions elaborated by specific organs (nectaries) that can be associated with plant reproductive structures (the so-called floral nectaries found only in angiosperms) or vegetative parts (extrafloral nectaries). These secretions are common in terrestrial vascular plants, especially angiosperms. Although gymnosperms do not seem to have true nectar, their ovular secretions may share evolutionary links with angiosperm nectar. Nectar is generally involved in interactions with animals and by virtue of its sugar and amino acid content, it has been considered a reward offered by plants to animals in exchange for benefits, mainly pollination and indirect defense against herbivores. These relationships are often cited as examples of classical mutualistic interactions. Nonetheless, recent studies dealing with compounds less abundant than sugars and amino acids challenge this view and suggest that nectar is much more complex than simply a reward in the form of food. Nectar proteins (nectarins) and nectar secondary compounds have no primary nutritious function but are involved in plant–animal relationships in other ways. Nectarins protect against proliferation of microorganisms and infection of plant tissues by pathogens. Nectar secondary compounds can be involved in modulating the behavior of nectar feeders, maximizing benefits for the plant. Nectar-dwelling microorganisms (mainly yeasts) were recently revealed to be a third partner in the scenario of plant–animal interactions mediated by nectar. There is evidence that yeast has a remarkable impact on nectar feeder behavior, although the effects on plant fitness have not yet been clearly assessed.
|Titolo:||New perspectives in nectar evolution and ecology: simple alimentary reward or a complex multiorganism interaction?|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|