Nectar biosynthesis is conserved among floral and extrafloral nectaries

Elizabeth C. Chatt, Siti Nabilla Mahalim, Nur Aziatull Mohd-Fadzil, Rahul Roy, Peter M. Klinkenberg, Harry T. Horner, Marshall Hampton, Clay J. Carter, Basil J. Nikolau

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13 Scopus citations


Nectar is a primary reward mediating plant-animal mutualisms to improve plant fitness and reproductive success. Four distinct trichomatic nectaries develop in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), one floral and three extrafloral, and the nectars they secrete serve different purposes. Floral nectar attracts bees for promoting pollination, while extrafloral nectar attracts predatory insects as a means of indirect protection from herbivores. Cotton therefore provides an ideal system for contrasting mechanisms of nectar production and nectar composition between different nectary types. Here, we report the transcriptome and ultrastructure of the four cotton nectary types throughout development and compare these with the metabolomes of secreted nectars. Integration of these datasets supports specialization among nectary types to fulfill their ecological niche, while conserving parallel coordination of the merocrine-based and eccrine-based models of nectar biosynthesis. Nectary ultrastructures indicate an abundance of rough endoplasmic reticulum positioned parallel to the cell walls and a profusion of vesicles fusing to the plasma membranes, supporting the merocrine model of nectar biosynthesis. The eccrine-based model of nectar biosynthesis is supported by global transcriptomics data, which indicate a progression from starch biosynthesis to starch degradation and sucrose biosynthesis and secretion. Moreover, our nectary global transcriptomics data provide evidence for novel metabolic processes supporting de novo biosynthesis of amino acids secreted in trace quantities in nectars. Collectively, these data demonstrate the conservation of nectar-producing models among trichomatic and extrafloral nectaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1595-1616
Number of pages22
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 23 2021

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