Plant Science

Efficient Fragrance

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Science  03 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5531, pp. 763-765
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5531.763e

Floral scents generally consist of secondary metabolites such as terpenoid, phenylpropanoid, and benzenoid compounds, and as many as 700 varieties have been identified among numerous plant families. After visual cues have attracted bumblebees into their general vicinity, snapdragons utilize floral scent to entice them into landing.

As described by Kolosova et al., the scent emanates primarily from the tissues that the bumblebee would most likely approach while foraging for nectar. The enzyme S-adenosylmethionine: benzoic acid carboxyl methyltransferase (BAMT) catalyzes the final step in synthesis of the scent component methylbenzoate in snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus). Immunogold labeling indicated that BAMT is localized to inner epidermal cells; specialized scent glands, such as might be expected to sequester complex metabolites, were not found. The conical shape of the epidermal cells also contributes to efficient use of volatile metabolites by increasing the surface area from which the scent compounds may be emitted. — PJH

Plant Physiol.126, 956 (2001).

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