The Mediterranean basin hosts a high diversity of plants and bees, and it is considered one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Insect pollination, i.e., pollen transfer from male reproductive structures to conspecific female ones, was classically thought to be a mutualistic relationship that links these two groups of organisms, giving rise to an admirable and complex network of interactions. Although nectar is often involved in mediating these interactions, relatively little is known about modifications in its chemical traits during the evolution of plants. Here, we examine how the current sucrose-dominated floral nectar of most Mediterranean plants could have arisen in the course of evolution of angiosperms. The transition from hexose-rich to sucrose-rich nectar secretion was probably triggered by increasing temperature and aridity during the Cretaceous period, when most angiosperms were radiating. This transition may have opened new ecological niches for new groups of insects that were co-diversifying with angiosperms and for specific nectar-dwelling yeasts that originated later (i.e., Metschnikowiaceae). Our hypothesis embeds recent discoveries in nectar biology, such as the involvement of nectar microbiota and nectar secondary metabolites in shaping interactions with pollinators, and it suggests a complex, multifaceted ecological and evolutionary scenario that we are just beginning to discover.

Nepi, M., Calabrese, D., Guarnieri, M., Giordano, E. (2021). Evolutionary and Ecological Considerations on Nectar-Mediated Tripartite Interactions in Angiosperms and Their Relevance in the Mediterranean Basin. PLANTS, 10(3) [10.3390/plants10030507].

Evolutionary and Ecological Considerations on Nectar-Mediated Tripartite Interactions in Angiosperms and Their Relevance in the Mediterranean Basin

Nepi, Massimo
;
Calabrese, Daniele;Giordano, Emanuele
2021-01-01

Abstract

The Mediterranean basin hosts a high diversity of plants and bees, and it is considered one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Insect pollination, i.e., pollen transfer from male reproductive structures to conspecific female ones, was classically thought to be a mutualistic relationship that links these two groups of organisms, giving rise to an admirable and complex network of interactions. Although nectar is often involved in mediating these interactions, relatively little is known about modifications in its chemical traits during the evolution of plants. Here, we examine how the current sucrose-dominated floral nectar of most Mediterranean plants could have arisen in the course of evolution of angiosperms. The transition from hexose-rich to sucrose-rich nectar secretion was probably triggered by increasing temperature and aridity during the Cretaceous period, when most angiosperms were radiating. This transition may have opened new ecological niches for new groups of insects that were co-diversifying with angiosperms and for specific nectar-dwelling yeasts that originated later (i.e., Metschnikowiaceae). Our hypothesis embeds recent discoveries in nectar biology, such as the involvement of nectar microbiota and nectar secondary metabolites in shaping interactions with pollinators, and it suggests a complex, multifaceted ecological and evolutionary scenario that we are just beginning to discover.
Nepi, M., Calabrese, D., Guarnieri, M., Giordano, E. (2021). Evolutionary and Ecological Considerations on Nectar-Mediated Tripartite Interactions in Angiosperms and Their Relevance in the Mediterranean Basin. PLANTS, 10(3) [10.3390/plants10030507].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11365/1133094