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Field Experiments with Transformed Plants Reveal the Sense of Floral Scents

Science  29 Aug 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5893, pp. 1200-1202
DOI: 10.1126/science.1160072

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Abstract

Plants use many means to attract pollinators, including visual cues and odor. We investigated how nonpigment floral chemistry influences nectar removal, floral visitation, florivory, rates of outcrossing, and fitness through both male and female functions. We blocked expression of biosynthetic genes of the dominant floral attractant [benzyl acetone (Nachal1)] and nectar repellent [nicotine (Napmt1/2)] in all combinations in the native tobacco Nicotiana attenuata and measured their effects on plants in their native habitat. Both repellent and attractant were required to maximize capsule production and seed siring in emasculated flowers and flower visitation by native pollinators, whereas nicotine reduced florivory and nectar robbing.

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