Carbohydrate metabolism and signaling in squash nectaries and nectar throughout floral maturation

Erik M. Solhaug, Elizabeth Johnson, Clay J. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Floral nectar is a sugary solution produced by plants to entice pollinator visitation. A general mechanism for nectar secretion has been established from genetic studies in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana); however, supporting metabolic and biochemical evidence for this model is scarce in other plant species. We used squash (Cucurbita pepo) to test whether the genetic model of nectar secretion in Arabidopsis is supported at the metabolic level in other species. As such, we analyzed the expression and activity of key enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism in squash nectaries throughout floral maturation and the associated starch and soluble sugars, as well as nectar volume and sugar under different growth conditions. Here we show that the steps that are important for nectar secretion in Arabidopsis, including nectary starch degradation, Suc synthesis, and Suc export, are supported by metabolic and biochemical data in C. pepo. Additionally, our findings suggest that sugars imported from the phloem during nectar secretion, without prior storage as starch, are important for generating C. pepo nectar. Finally, we predict that trehalose and trehalose 6-P play important regulatory roles in nectary starch degradation and nectar secretion. These data improve our understanding of how nectar is produced in an agronomically relevant species with the potential for use as a model to help us gain insight into the biochemistry and metabolism of nectar secretion in flowering plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1930-1946
Number of pages17
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2019

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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