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Biosynthetic and Functional Color-Scent Associations in Flowers of Papaver nudicaule and Their Impact on Pollinators

Biosynthetic and Functional Color-Scent Associations in Flowers of Papaver nudicaule and Their Impact on Pollinators

Chembiochem: a European journal of chemical biology 19(14): 1553-1562

ISSN/ISBN: 1439-4227

PMID: 29696753

DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201800155

Despite increasing evidence for biosynthetic connections between flower pigments and volatile compounds, examples of such relationships in polymorphic plant species remains limited. Herein, color-scent associations in flowers from Papaver nudicaule (Papaveraceae) have been investigated. The spectral reflectance and scent composition of flowers of four color cultivars was determined. We found that pigments and volatiles occur in specific combinations in flowers of P. nudicaule. The presence of indole in the bouquets is strongly associated with the occurrence of yellow pigments called nudicaulins, for which indole is one of the final biosynthetic precursors. Whereas yellow flowers emit an excess of indole, orange flowers consume it during nudicaulin production and lack the substance in their bouquet. By using the honeybee, Apis mellifera, evaluations were made on how color and scent affect the discrimination of these flowers by pollinators. Honeybees were able to discriminate artificial odor mixtures resembling those of the natural flower odors. Bees trained with stimuli combining colors and odors showed an improved discrimination performance. The results indicate that the indole moiety of nudicaulins and emitted indole might be products of the same biochemical pathway. We propose that conserved pathways account for the evolution of color-scent associations in P. nudicaule and that these associations positively affect flower constancy of pollinators.

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Accession: 052195390

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