• Background and Aims Despite the number of orchid species that are thought to be pollinated by hummingbirds, our knowledge of the nectaries of these orchids is based solely on a single species, Maxillaria coccinea (Jacq.) L.O. Williams ex Hodge. Nevertheless, it is predicted that such nectaries are likely to be very diverse and the purpose of this paper is to compare the nectary and the process of nectar secretion in Hexisea imbricata (Lindl.) Rchb.f. with that of Maxillaria coccinea so as to begin to characterize the nectaries of presumed ornithophilous Neotropical orchids.
• Methods Light microscopy, transmission electronmicroscopy and histochemistry were used to examine the histology and chemical composition of nectary tissue and the process of nectar secretion in H. imbricata.
• Key Results and Conclusions The nectary of H. imbricata has a vascular supply, is bound by a single-layered epidermis with few stomata and comprises two or three layers of subepidermal secretory cells beneath which lie several layers of palisade-like parenchymatous cells, some of which contain raphides or mucilage. The secretory cells are collenchymatous and their walls have numerous pits with associated plasmodesmata. They contain the full complement of organelles characteristic of secretory cells as well as intravacuolar protein bodies but some of the secretory epidermal cells, following secretion, collapse and their anticlinal walls seem to fold. Nectar secretion is thought to be granulocrine and, following starch depletion, lipid droplets collect within the plastids. The nectar accumulates beneath the cuticle which subsequently forms swellings. Finally, nectar collects in the saccate nectary spur formed by the fusion of the margins of the labellum and the base of the column-foot. Thus, although the nectary of H. imbricata and M. coccinea have many features in common, they nevertheless display a number of important differences.
Hummingbird; nectary; nectar secretion; ornithophily; pollination; transmission electron microscopy
Background and Aims
Many orchid flowers have glands called elaiophores and these reward pollinating insects with oil. In contrast to other reward-producing structures such as nectaries, the anatomy of the elaiophore and the process of oil secretion have not been extensively studied. In this paper, elaiophore structure is described for two members of Oncidiinae, Oncidium trulliferum Lindl. and Ornithophora radicans (Rchb.f.) Garay & Pabst.
Elaiophores of both species were examined using light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy.
Key Results and Conclusions
In flowers of Oncidium trulliferum and Ornithophora radicans, oil is secreted by morphologically distinct elaiophores associated with the labellar callus. However, in O. trulliferum, elaiophores also occur on the lateral lobes of the labellum. In both these species, the epithelial elaiophores are composed of a single layer of palisade-like epidermal cells and a distinct subepithelial layer. Secretory elaiophore cells may contain numerous, starchless plastids, mitochondria and smooth endoplasmic reticulum profiles. In O. trulliferum, the cytoplasm contains myelin-like figures but these are absent from O. radicans. In the former species, cavities occur in the cell wall and these presumably facilitate the passage of oil onto the elaiophore surface. In O. radicans, the accumulation of oil between the outer tangential wall and the cuticle causes the latter to become distended. Since it is probable that the full discharge of oil from the elaiophores of O. radicans occurs only when the cuticle is ruptured by a visiting insect, this may contribute towards pollinator specificity. The structure of the elaiophore in these species resembles both that found in previously investigated species of Oncidiinae and that of certain members of the Malpighiaceae.
Elaiophore; Oncidium trulliferum; Ornithophora radicans; Orchidaceae; oil secretion; pollination
Background and Aims
The Orchidaceae have a history of recurring convergent evolution in floral function as nectar production has evolved repeatedly from an ancestral nectarless state. However, orchids exhibit considerable diversity in nectary type, position and morphology, indicating that this convergence arose from alternative adaptive solutions. Using the genus Disa, this study asks whether repeated evolution of floral nectaries involved recapitulation of the same nectary type or diversifying innovation. Epidermis morphology of closely related nectar-producing and nectarless species is also compared in order to identify histological changes that accompanied the gain or loss of nectar production.
The micromorphology of nectaries and positionally equivalent tissues in nectarless species was examined with light and scanning electron microscopy. This information was subjected to phylogenetic analyses to reconstruct nectary evolution and compare characteristics of nectar-producing and nectarless species.
Two nectary types evolved in Disa. Nectar exudation by modified stomata in floral spurs evolved twice, whereas exudation by a secretory epidermis evolved six times in different perianth segments. The spur epidermis of nectarless species exhibited considerable micromorphological variation, including strongly textured surfaces and non-secreting stomata in some species. Epidermis morphology of nectar-producing species did not differ consistently from that of rewardless species at the magnifications used in this study, suggesting that transitions from rewardlessness to nectar production are not necessarily accompanied by visible morphological changes but only require sub-cellular modification.
Independent nectary evolution in Disa involved both repeated recapitulation of secretory epidermis, which is present in the sister genus Brownleea, and innovation of stomatal nectaries. These contrasting nectary types and positional diversity within types imply weak genetic, developmental or physiological constraints in ancestral, nectarless Disa. Such functional convergence generated by morphologically diverse solutions probably also underlies the extensive diversity of nectary types and positions in the Orchidaceae.
Disa; Disinae; Orchidaceae; orchid; deceit pollination; modified stoma; nectar; nectary; reward; rewardless; evolution; functional convergence
• Background and Aims It had previously been assumed that Maxillaria spp. produce no nectar. However, nectar has recently been observed in Maxillaria coccinea (Jacq.) L.O. Williams ex Hodge amongst other species. Furthermore, it is speculated that M. coccinea may be pollinated by hummingbirds. The aim of this paper is to investigate these claims further.
• Methods Light microscopy, histochemistry, scanning and transmission electron microscopy.
• Key Results This is the first detailed account of nectar secretion in Maxillaria Ruiz & Pav. A ‘faucet and sink’ arrangement occurs in M. coccinea. Here, the nectary is represented by a small protuberance upon the ventral surface of the column and nectar collects in a semi‐saccate reservoir formed by the fusion of the labellum and the base of the column‐foot. The nectary comprises a single‐layered epidermis and three or four layers of small subepidermal cells. Beneath these occur several layers of larger parenchyma cells. Epidermal cells lack ectodesmata and have a thin, permeable, reticulate cuticle with associated swellings that coincide with the middle lamella between adjoining epidermal cells. Nectar is thought to pass both along the apoplast and symplast and eventually through the stretched and distended cuticle. The secretory cells are collenchymatous, nucleated and have numerous pits with plasmodesmata, mitochondria, rough ER and plastids with many plastoglobuli but few lamellae. Subsecretory cells have fewer plastids than secretory cells. Nectary cells also contain large intravacuolar protein bodies. The floral morphology of M. coccinea is considered in relation to ornithophily and its nectary compared with a similar protuberance found in the entomophilous species M. parviflora (Poepp. & Endl.) Garay.
• Conclusions Flowers of M. coccinea produce copious amounts of nectar and, despite the absence of field data, their morphology and the exact configuration of their parts argue strongly in favour of ornithophily.
Hummingbird pollination; Maxillaria coccinea; nectary ultrastructure; Orchidaceae; scanning electron microscopy; transmission electron microscopy
• Background and Aims Although it was generally assumed that Maxillaria spp. do not produce nectar, in recent years, nectar has been reported for a number of these orchids. Nevertheless, our current understanding of nectary structure and nectar secretion in Maxillaria is based solely on M. coccinea (Jacq.) L.O. Williams ex Hodge, which, since it shows many features characteristic of ornithophilous flowers, is atypical of this largely entomophilous genus. The aim of the present paper is to describe, for the first time, nectar secretion in a presumed entomophilous species of Maxillaria.
• Methods The structure of the nectary of M. anceps Ames & C. Schweinf., nectar composition and the process of nectar secretion were investigated using light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, histochemistry, refractometry and high performance liquid chromatography.
• Key Results and Conclusions Nectar appears as droplets that are exuded by modified stomata borne upon the labellar callus and collects upon the labellum and at the base of the column-foot. Although such stomata are known to occur in a number of angiosperm families, this is the first time for them to be observed in orchids. The callus consists largely of parenchyma with raphides and is supplied by eight to ten collateral bundles. This tissue, together with the single-layered epidermis, seemingly contains terpenoids. During the bud stage, the callus cells contain an organelle complement consistent with secretory cells whereas by day 4 of anthesis, much of the cell is occupied by a vacuole. The nectar is sucrose-dominant but also contains low concentrations of glucose, fructose, free amino acids and possibly terpenoids. The high sugar concentration (approx. 66 %) is consistent with melittophily and may indicate that, like the majority of Maxillaria spp., M. anceps is visited by stingless bees (Meliponini).
Entomophily; HPLC; light microscopy; Maxillaria; melittophily; nectar; nectary; refractometry; SEM; stomata; TEM; terpenoids; ultrastructure
The Aerides–Vanda alliance is a complex group in the subtribe Aeridinae (subfamily Epidendroideae, Orchidaceae). Some phylogenetic systems of this alliance have been previously proposed based on molecular and morphological analyses. However, several taxonomic problems within this alliance as well as between it and its allies remain unsolved.
We utilized ITS and five plastid DNA regions in this phylogenetic analysis. Consensus trees strongly indicate that the Aerides–Vanda alliance is monophyletic, and the 14 genera of this alliance can be grouped into the following clades with 14 subclades: 1. Aerides, comprising two subclades: Rhynchostylis and Aerides; 2. Ascocentropsis; 3. Papilionanthe; 4. Vanda, comprising five subclades: Neofinetia, Christensonia, Seidenfadenia, Ascocentrum, and Vanda–Trudelia, in which Vanda and Trudelia form a subclade; 5. Tsiorchis, comprising three subclades: Chenorchis, Tsiorchis, and two species of Ascocentrum; 6. Paraholcoglossum; and 7. Holcoglossum. Among the 14 genera, only Ascocentrum is triphyletic: two species of the Ascocentrum subclade, an independent subclade Ascocentrum subclade in the Tsiorchis clade; the Ascocentrum subclade in the Vanda clade; and one species in the Holcoglossum clade. The Vanda and Trudelia species belong to the same subclade. The molecular conclusion is consistent with their morphological characteristics.
We elucidate the relationship among the 14 genera of the Aerides–Vanda alliance. Our phylogenetic results reveal that the Aerides–Vanda alliance is monophyletic, but it can be divided into 14 genera. The data prove that Ascocentrum is triphyletic. Plants with elongate-terete leaves and small flowers should be treated as a new genus, Pendulorchis. Saccolabium himalaicum (Ascocentrum himalaicum) should be transferred to Pendulorchis. Ascocentrum pumilum, endemic to Taiwan, should be transferred to Holcoglossum. A new combination, Holcoglossum pumilum, was also established. Trudelia should not be recognized as an independent genus. Two new species, Pendulorchis gaoligongensis and Holcoglossum singchianum, were described as well.
• Background and Aims In spite of the impressive species diversity in the Asteraceae and their widespread appeal to many generalist pollinators, floral-nectary ultrastructure in the family has rarely been investigated. To redress this, a study using Echinacea purpurea, a plant of horticultural and nutraceutical value, was undertaken. Nectar secretion of disc florets was compared with floral nectary ultrastructure taking into account nectar's potential impact upon the reproductive success of this outcrossing species.
• Methods Micropipette collections of nectar in conjunction with refractometry were used to determine the volume and nectar-sugar quantities of disc florets throughout their phenology, from commencement of its production to cessation of secretion. Light, scanning-electron and transmission-electron microscopy were utilized to examine morphology, anatomy and ultrastructure of nectaries of the disc florets.
• Key Results Florets were protandrous with nectar being secreted from anthesis until the third day of the pistillate phase. Nectar production per floret peaked on the first day of stigma receptivity, making the two innermost whorls of open florets most attractive to foraging visitors. Modified stomata were situated along the apical rim of the collar-like nectary, which surrounds the style base and sits on top of the inferior ovary. The floral nectary was supplied by phloem only, and both sieve elements and companion cells were found adjacent to the epidermis; the latter participated in the origin of some of the precursor cells that yielded these specialized cells of phloem. Companion cells possessed wall ingrowths (transfer cells). Lobed nuclei were a key feature of secretory parenchyma cells.
• Conclusions The abundance of mitochondria suggests an eccrine mechanism of secretion, although dictyosomal vesicles may contribute to a granulocrine process. Phloem sap evidently is the main contributor of nectar carbohydrates. From the sieve elements and companion cells, an apoplastic route via intercellular spaces and cell walls, leading to the pores of modified stomata, is available. A symplastic pathway, via plasmodesmata connecting sieve elements to companion, parenchyma and epidermal cells, is also feasible. Uncollected nectar was reabsorbed, and the direct innervation of the nectary by sieve tubes potentially serves a second important route for nectar-sugar reclamation. Microchannels in the outer cuticle may facilitate both secretion and reabsorption.
Echinacea purpurea; eccrine process; floral nectary; floret phenology; modified stomata; nectar reabsorption; nectar secretion; phloem; ultrastructure
Background and Aims
Most neotropical Melastomataceae have bee-pollinated flowers with poricidal anthers. However, nectar rewards are known to be produced in about 80 species in eight genera from four different tribes. These nectar-producing species are pollinated by both vertebrates and invertebrates.
The floral morphology and anatomy of 14 species was studied in six genera of nectar-producing Melastomataceae (Blakea, Brachyotum, Charianthus, Huilaea, Meriania and Miconia). Anatomical methods included scanning electron microscopy, and serial sections of paraffin-embedded flowers.
All vertebrate-pollinated melastome flowers have petals that do not open completely at anthesis, thus forming a pseudo-tubular corolla, while closely related species that are bee pollinated have rotate or reflexed corollas. In most species, nectar secretion is related to stomatal or epidermal nectaries and not filament slits as previously reported. Moreover, the nectar is probably supplied by large vascular bundles near the release area. Blakea and Huilaea have nectary stomata located upon the dorsal anther connective appendages. Brachyotum also has nectary stomata on the anther connectives, but these are distributed lengthwise along most of the connective. Meriania may release nectar through the anther connective, but has additional nectary stomata on the inner walls of the hypanthium. Miconia has nectary stomata on the ovary apex. Charianthus nectaries were not found, but there is circumstantial evidence that nectar release occurs through the epidermis at the apex of the ovary and the lower portions of the inner wall of the hypanthium.
Nectar release in Melastomataceae is apparently related to nectary stomata and not filament slits. The presence of nectary stomata on stamens and on ovary apices in different lineages suggests that the acquisition of nectaries is a derived condition. Nectary location also supports a derived condition, because location is strongly consistent within each genus, but differs between genera.
Blakea; Brachyotum; Charianthus; Huilaea; Meriania; Melastomataceae; Miconia; nectaries; nectary stomata; pollination
Determining the generic delimitations within Aeridinae has been a significant issue in the taxonomy of Orchidaceae, and Holcoglossum is a typical case. We investigated the phylogenetic utility of the morphological traits of leaf epidermis in the taxonomy of Holcoglossum s.l. by using light and scanning electron microscopy to analyze 38 samples representing 12 species of Holcoglossum, with five species from five closely related genera, such as Ascocentrum, Luisia, Papilionanthe, Rhynchostylis and Vanda. Our results indicated that Holcoglossum can be distinguished from the related genera based on cuticular wax characteristics, and the inclusion of Holcoglossum himalaicum in Holcoglossum is supported by the epidermis characteristics found by LM and SEM. The percentage of the tetracytic, brachyparacytic, and laterocytic stomata types as well as the stomata index and certain combinations of special wax types support infrageneric clades and phylogenetic relationships that have been inferred from molecular data. Laterocytic and polarcytic stomata are perhaps ecological adaptations to the strong winds and ample rains in the alpine region of the Hengduanshan Mountains.
Background and Aims
Considering that few studies on nectary anatomy and ultrastructure are available for chiropterophilous flowers and the importance of Hymenaea stigonocarpa in natural ‘cerrado’ communities, the present study sought to analyse the structure and cellular modifications that take place within its nectaries during the different stages of floral development, with special emphasis on plastid dynamics.
For the structural and ultrastructural studies the nectary was processed as per usual techniques and studied under light, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Histochemical tests were employed to identify the main metabolites on nectary tissue and secretion samples.
The floral nectary consists of the inner epidermis of the hypanthium and vascularized parenchyma. Some evidence indicates that the nectar release occurs via the stomata. The high populations of mitochondria, and their juxtaposition with amyloplasts, seem to be related to energy needs for starch hydrolysis. Among the alterations observed during the secretory phase, the reduction in the plastid stromatic density and starch grain size are highlighted. When the secretory stage begins, the plastid envelope disappears and a new membrane is formed, enclosing this region and giving rise to new vacuoles. After the secretory stage, cellular structures named ‘extrastomatic bodies’ were observed and seem to be related to the nectar resorption.
Starch hydrolysis contributes to nectar formation, in addition to the photosynthates derived directly from the phloem. In these nectaries, the secretion is an energy-requiring process. During the secretion stage, some plastids show starch grain hydrolysis and membrane rupture, and it was observed that the region previously occupied by this organelle continued to be reasonably well defined, and gave rise to new vacuoles. The extrastomatic bodies appear to be related to the resorption of uncollected nectar.
Cell ultrastructure; cerrado vegetation; extrastomatic bodies; Fabaceae; floral nectary; Hymenaea stigonocarpa; nectar; plastids; secretion; starch hydrolysis; vacuole
Background and Aims
The occurrence of nectaries in fruits is restricted to a minority of plant families and consistent reports of their occurrence are not found associated with Fabaceae, mainly showing cellular details. The present study aims to describe the anatomical organization and ultrastructure of the pericarpial nectaries (PNs) in Erythrina speciosa, a bird-pollinated species, discussing functional aspects of these unusual structures.
Samples of floral buds, ovaries of flowers at anthesis and fruits at several developmental stages were fixed and processed by the usual methods for studies using light, and scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Nectar samples collected by filter paper wicks were subjected to chemical analysis using thin-layer chromatography.
The PNs are distributed in isolation on the exocarp. Each PN is represented by a single hyaline trichome that consists of a basal cell at epidermal level, stalk cell(s) and a small secretory multicellular head. The apical stalk cell shows inner periclinal and anticlinal walls impregnated by lipids and lignin and has dense cytoplasm with a prevalence of mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum. The secretory cells show voluminous nuclei and dense cytoplasm, which predominantly has dictyosomes, rough endoplasmic reticulum, plastids, mitochondria and free ribosomes. At the secretory stage the periplasmic space is prominent and contains secretion residues. Tests for sugar indicate the presence of non-reducing sugars in the secretory cells. Nectar samples from PNs contained sucrose, glucose and fructose.
The secretory stage of these PNs extends until fruit maturation and evidence suggests that the energetic source of nectar production is based on pericarp photosynthesis. Patrolling ants were seen foraging on fruits during all stages of fruit development, which suggests that the PNs mediate a symbiotic relationship between ants and plant, similar to the common role of many extrafloral nectaries.
Ant–plant interactions; Erythrina speciosa; Fabaceae; Faboideae; fruit anatomy; nectar secretion; nectary; post-floral nectaries
Background and Aims
Several members of Bromeliaceae show adaptations for hummingbird pollination in the Neotropics; however, the relationships between floral structure, nectar production, pollination and pollinators are poorly understood. The main goal of this study was to analyse the functional aspects of nectar secretion related to interaction with pollinators by evaluating floral biology, cellular and sub-cellular anatomy of the septal nectary and nectar composition of Ananas ananassoides, including an experimental approach to nectar dynamics.
Observations on floral anthesis and visitors were conducted in a population of A. ananassoides in the Brazilian savanna. Nectary samples were processed using standard methods for light and transmission electron microscopy. The main metabolites in nectary tissue were detected via histochemistry. Sugar composition was analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The accumulated nectar was determined from bagged flowers (‘unvisited’), and floral response to repeated nectar removal was evaluated in an experimental design simulating multiple visits by pollinators to the same flowers (‘visited’) over the course of anthesis.
The hummingbirds Hylocharis chrysura and Thalurania glaucopis were the most frequent pollinators. The interlocular septal nectary, composed of three lenticular canals, extends from the ovary base to the style base. It consists of a secretory epithelium and nectary parenchyma rich in starch grains, which are hydrolysed during nectar secretion. The median volume of nectar in recently opened ‘unvisited’ flowers was 27·0 µL, with a mean (sucrose-dominated) sugar concentration of 30·5 %. Anthesis lasts approx. 11 h, and nectar secretion begins before sunrise. In ‘visited’ flowers (experimentally emptied every hour) the nectar total production per flower was significantly higher than in the ‘unvisited’ flowers (control) in terms of volume (t = 4·94, P = 0·0001) and mass of sugar (t = 2·95, P = 0·007), and the concentration was significantly lower (t = 8·04, P = 0·0001).
The data suggest that the total production of floral nectar in A. ananassoides is linked to the pollinators' activity and that the rapid renewal of nectar is related to the nectary morphological features.
Ananas ananassoides; Bromeliaceae; ornithophily; nectary structure; nectar secretion process; sugar composition
• Background and aims The lip structure of six Brazilian and one Asiatic species of Bulbophyllum with wind‐assisted fly pollination (B. involutum, B. ipanemense and B. weddellii) and non‐wind‐assisted fly pollination (B. epiphytum, B. glutinosum, B. regnellii and B. rothschildianum) was studied to investigate the presence of secretory tissues related to these pollination mechanisms.
• Methods The lip study was carried out through scanning electron microscopy (lip surface) and light microscopy (anatomical features).
• Key Results In most of the species studied, the osmophores (odour glands) were located in the lobes and in the upper surface of the lip callus. Differences in the lip structure were observed between the two groups (the presence of a nectary and the extent of osmophore surface), depending on the mechanism of pollination. Nectaries were found in the cavity callus in B. ipanemense,
B. involutum and B. weddellii, even though their pollinators were presumably attracted by the instinct to oviposit.
• Conclusions These findings corroborate the hypothesis that, because pollination in these species is dependent on an unpredictable external factor (wind), nectar is necessary to keep the insect in the flower for a long period. Despite the occurrence of a liquid‐like nectar in the flowers of B. epiphytum, B. glutinosum, B. regnelli and B. rothschildianum, no anatomical evidence for nectaries was found in the lips of these species, although a similar structure may occur in another region of the flowers. This observation agrees with the fact that pollination by lip movement in the latter species requires only gravity, with no additional mechanism being needed to keep the flies in the flower.
Anatomy; Bulbophyllum; nectary; Orchidaceae; osmophores; pollination; scanning electron microscopy
Background and Aims
Until recently, there was no consensus regarding the phylogenetic relationships of the Neotropical orchid genera Scuticaria Lindl. and Dichaea Lindl. However, recent evidence derived from both gross morphological and molecular studies supports the inclusion of Scuticaria and Dichaea in sub-tribes Maxillariinae and Zygopetalinae, respectively. The present paper describes the labellar micromorphology of both genera and seeks to establish whether labellar characters support the assignment of Scuticaria and Dichaea to these sub-tribes.
The labella of four species of Scuticaria and 14 species of Dichaea were examined using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, and their micromorphology was compared with that of representative species of Maxillariinae sensu lato and Zygopetalinae (Huntleya clade).
Key Results and Conclusions
In most specimens of Scuticaria examined, the papillose labella bear uniseriate, multicellular, unbranched trichomes. However, in S. steelii (Lindl.) Lindl., branched hairs may also be present and some trichomes may fragment and form pseudopollen. Multicellular, leaf-like scales were also present in one species of Scuticaria. Similar, unbranched hairs are present in certain species of Maxillaria Ruiz & Pav. (Maxillariinae sensu stricto) and Chaubardia Rchb.f. (Huntleya clade). As yet, moniliform, pseudopollen-forming hairs have not been observed for Zygopetalinae, but their presence in Scuticaria steelii, Maxillaria and Heterotaxis Lindl. supports the placing of Scuticaria in Maxillariinae. As other genera are sampled, the presence of branched hairs, hitherto unknown for Maxillariinae sensu lato, may prove to be a useful character in taxonomy and phylogenetic studies. Euglossophily occurs in Dichaea, as well as Chondrorhyncha Lindl. and Pescatorea Rchb.f. (Huntleya clade), and all three genera tend to lack distinctive labellar features. Instead, lip micromorphology is relatively simple and glabrous or papillose. However, two of the Dichaea species examined bear unicellular, labellar trichomes very similar to those found in Bifrenaria Lindl. (pollinated by both euglossine bees and Bombus spp.), and this feature may have arisen by convergence in response to similar pollination pressures.
Bifrenaria; Bifrenaria clade; Chaubardia; Chondrorhyncha; Dichaea; Dichaeinae; Heterotaxis; Huntleya clade; Huntleyinae; labellum; Maxillaria; Maxillariinae; papillae; Pescatorea; scales; Scuticaria; trichomes; Zygopetalinae
Many flowering plants attract pollinators by offering a reward of floral nectar. Remarkably, the molecular events involved in the development of nectaries, the organs that produce nectar, as well as the synthesis and secretion of nectar itself, are poorly understood. Indeed, to date, no genes have been shown to directly affect the de novo production or quality of floral nectar. To address this gap in knowledge, the ATH1 Affymetrix® GeneChip array was used to systematically investigate the Arabidopsis nectary transcriptome to identify genes and pathways potentially involved in nectar production.
In this study, we identified a large number of genes differentially expressed between secretory lateral nectaries and non-secretory median nectary tissues, as well as between mature lateral nectaries (post-anthesis) and immature lateral nectaries (pre-anthesis). Expression within nectaries was also compared to thirteen non-nectary reference tissues, from which 270 genes were identified as being significantly upregulated in nectaries. The expression patterns of 14 nectary-enriched genes were also confirmed via RT PCR. Upon looking into functional groups of upregulated genes, pathways involved in gene regulation, carbohydrate metabolism, and lipid metabolism were particularly enriched in nectaries versus reference tissues.
A large number of genes preferentially expressed in nectaries, as well as between nectary types and developmental stages, were identified. Several hypotheses relating to mechanisms of nectar production and regulation thereof are proposed, and provide a starting point for reverse genetics approaches to determine molecular mechanisms underlying nectar synthesis and secretion.
• Background and Aims The two closely related subtribes Bifrenariinae Dressler and Maxillariinae Benth. are easily distinguished on morphological grounds. Recently, however, molecular techniques have supported the inclusion of Bifrenariinae within a more broadly defined Maxillariinae. The present paper describes the diverse labellar micromorphology found amongst representatives of Bifrenariinae (Bifrenaria Lindl., Rudolfiella Hoehne, Teuscheria Garay and Xylobium Lindl.) and compares it with that found in Maxillaria Pabst & Dungs and Mormolyca Fenzl (Maxillariinae).
• Methods The labella of 35 specimens representing 22 species of Bifrenariinae were examined by means of light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy and their micromorphology compared with that of Maxillaria sensu stricto and Mormolyca spp. The labellar epidermis of representatives of Bifrenaria, Xylobium and Mormolyca was tested for protein, starch and lipids in order to ascertain whether this tissue is involved in the rewarding of pollinators.
• Key Results and Conclusions The labella of Bifrenaria spp. and Mormolyca spp. are densely pubescent but those of Xylobium, Teuscheria and Rudolfiella are generally papillose. However, whereas the trichomes of Bifrenaria and Mormolyca are unicellular, those found in the other three genera are multicellular. Hitherto, no unicellular trichomes have been described for Maxillaria, although the labella of a number of species secrete a viscid substance or bear moniliform, pseudopollen-producing hairs. Moniliform hairs and secretory material also occur in certain species of Xylobium and Teuscheria and these genera, together with Maxillaria, are thought to be pollinated by stingless bees (Meliponini). Differences in the labellar micromorphology of Bifrenaria and Mormolyca are perhaps related to Euglossine- and/ or bumble bee-mediated pollination and pseudocopulation, respectively. Although Xylobium and Teuscheria share a number of labellar features with Maxillaria sensu stricto, this does not necessarily reflect taxonomic relationships but may be indicative of convergence in response to similar pollinator pressures.
Bifrenaria; Bifrenariinae; Maxillaria; Maxillariinae; Meliponini; papillae; pollination; pseudopollen; Rudolfiella; Teuscheria; trichomes; Xylobium
Background and Aims
The oldest group of plants in which nectar secretions have been observed are the Polypodiopsida (ferns sensu lato). Nectaries have been reported in a dozen extant genera. The function of these nectaries has been investigated in several fern species, and in some circumstances has been demonstrated to have an antiherbivore role, attracting and maintaining biotic defence (ants and/or other predatory arthropods). This study documents foliar nectaries in Pleopeltis crassinervata, a widespread Central American epiphyte growing on a variety of trees in cloud forest areas of Veracruz, Mexico. This is a new record for this genus and species.
As previous experimental work on epiphytic species of Polypodium has demonstrated a protective role of ants for developing fronds, we conducted similar experiments (using nylon nail polish to cover nectaries rather than excluding ants with bands of sticky resin as in earlier work). The fronds of Pl. crassinervata developed over 6 weeks, at which time damage was assessed. The experiment was simultaneously conducted on a sympatric species lacking nectaries, Polypodium furfuraceum. Herbivore placement experiments were conducted with large and small caterpillars on both of these ferns.
Fronds with nectaries covered suffered greater damage from herbivores over the course of their development, compared with fronds that had uncovered nectaries functioning normally. The parallel experiment on Po. furfuraceum showed no difference between manipulated and control fronds. Six species of ants (Brachymyrmex minutus, Crematogaster formosa, Paratrechina longicornis, Solenopsis geminata, S. picea and Wasmannia auropunctata) were observed visiting nectaries of Pl. crassinervata; most were effective in removing herbivore larvae placed on the fronds.
The long evolutionary history of ferns may explain why some previous studies of fern nectaries have shown little or no benefit to ferns from nectary visitors, as any coevolved herbivores are those resistant to ant defence. The results suggest that ants protect Pl. crassinervata fronds against herbivory. The presence of nectaries, and the relationship with ants, may contribute to this fern's widespread occurrence and persistence in the face of disturbance, though many other factors also play a role. Ant defence may be more likely to benefit a widespread species of disturbed habitats that encounters a wide range of non-adapted herbivores.
Extrafloral nectar; extrasoral nectar; ferns; pteridophytes; nectaries; ant protection; Formicidae; herbivory; antiherbivore defence; Mexico; field experiment; epiphyte; cloud forest; Pleopeltis crassinervata; Polypodium furfuraceum
• Background and Aims Morphological descriptions of the extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) of certain plant species are common in the literature, but they rarely relate morphology with histology, gland distribution and secretory attributes. In this study a morphological/secretory characterization of EFNs occurring on several plant species in a tropical coastal community is made and the implications of gland attributes discussed from a functional perspective.
• Methods The morphology and nectar secretion of the EFNs of 20 plant species are characterized through scanning electron microscopy, histochemical detection of reducing sugars (Fehling's reagent) and nectar volume/concentration estimates.
• Key Results Sixty-five per cent of plant species in coastal communities had EFNs on vegetative structures and 35 % of species had glands on reproductive and vegetative organs. The Fabaceae is the plant family with the most species with EFNs and most diversity of gland morphologies. Four types of vascularized nectaries and four of glandular trichomes are described; sugar-secreting trichomes are characterized using Fehling's technique, and the first descriptions of unicellular and peltate trichomes functioning as EFNs are provided. Glands of ten plant species and six genera are described for the first time. Four plant species possess more than one morphological type of EFN. Eleven species have EFNs in more than one location or organ. More complex glands secrete more nectar, but are functionally homologous to the aggregations of numerous secretory trichomes on specific and valuable plant organs.
• Conclusion Important diversity of EFN morphology was foundin the coastal plant community studied. Both vascularized and non-vascularized EFNs are observed in plants and, for the latter, previously non-existent morpho-secretory characterizations are provided with a methodological approach to study them. It is recommended that studies relating EFN attributes (i.e. morphology, distribution) with their differential visitation by insects (i.e. ants) and the cost of maintenance to the plants are carried out to understand the evolution of these glands.
Extrafloral nectary morphology; secretory rates; nectary position; histology; taxonomy; ant-plant interactions; coastal plant communities
Background and Aims
Floral elaiophores, although widespread amongst orchids, have not previously been described for Maxillariinae sensu lato. Here, two claims that epithelial, floral elaiophores occur in the genus Rudolfiella Hoehne (Bifrenaria clade) are investigated. Presumed elaiophores were compared with those of Oncidiinae Benth. and the floral, resin-secreting tissues of Rhetinantha M.A. Blanco and Heterotaxis Lindl., both genera formerly assigned to Maxillaria Ruiz & Pav. (Maxillariinae sensu stricto).
Putative, floral elaiophore tissue of Rudolfiella picta (Schltr.) Hoehne and floral elaiophores of Oncidium ornithorhynchum H.B.K. were examined by means of light microscopy, histochemistry, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy.
Key Results and Conclusions
Floral, epithelial elaiophores are present in Rudolfiella picta, indicating, for the first time, that oil secretion occurs amongst members of the Bifrenaria clade (Maxillariinae sensu lato). However, whereas the elaiophore of R. picta is borne upon the labellar callus, the elaiophores of O. ornithorhynchum occur on the lateral lobes of the labellum. In both species, the elaiophore comprises a single layer of palisade secretory cells and parenchymatous, subsecretory tissue. Cell wall cavities are absent from both and there is no evidence of cuticular distension in response to oil accumulation between the outer tangential wall and the overlying cuticle in R. picta. Distension of the cuticle, however, occurs in O. ornithorhynchum. Secretory cells of R. picta contain characteristic, spherical or oval plastids with abundant plastoglobuli and these more closely resemble plastids found in labellar, secretory cells of representatives of Rhetinantha (formerly Maxillaria acuminata Lindl. alliance) than elaiophore plastids of Oncidiinae. In Rhetinantha, such plastids are involved in the synthesis of resin-like material or wax. Despite these differences, the elaiophore anatomy of both R. picta (Bifrenaria clade) and O. ornithorhynchum (Oncidiinae) fundamentally resembles that of several representatives of Oncidiinae. These, in their possession of palisade secretory cells, in turn, resemble the floral elaiophores of certain members of Malpighiaceae, indicating that convergence has occurred here in response to similar pollination pressures.
Bifrenaria clade; elaiophore; floral oil; Heterotaxis; Maxillariinae; Oncidiinae; Oncidium ornithorhynchum; Rhetinantha; Rudolfiella picta; secretion
Background and Aims
Gross vegetative and floral morphology, as well as modern molecular techniques, indicate that Cryptocentrum Benth. and Sepalosaccus Schltr. are related to Maxillaria Ruiz & Pav. However, they differ from Maxillaria in their possession of floral spurs and, in this respect, are atypical of Maxillariinae. The labellar micromorphology of Maxillaria, unlike that of the other two genera, has been extensively studied. In the present report, the labellar micromorphology of Cryptocentrum and Sepalosaccus is compared with that of Maxillaria and, for the first time, the micromorphology of the floral spur as found in Maxillariinae is described.
Labella and dissected floral spurs of Cryptocentrum and Sepalosaccus were examined using light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
In each case, the labellum consists of a papillose mid-lobe (epichile), a cymbiform region (hypochile) and, proximally, a spur, which is pronounced in Cryptocentrum but short and blunt in Sepalosaccus. The inner epidermal surface of the spur of Cryptocentrum is glabrous or pubescent, and the bicellular hairs, where present, are unlike any hitherto described for Maxillariinae. Similar but unicellular hairs also occur in the floral spur of Sepalosaccus, whereas the glabrous epidermis lining the spur of C. peruvianum contains putative nectar pores.
The labellar micromorphology of Cryptocentrum and Sepalosaccus generally resembles that of Maxillaria. The floral spur of Cryptocentrum displays two types of organization in that the epidermal lining may be glabrous (possibly with nectar pores) or pubescent. This may have taxonomic significance and perhaps reflects physiological differences relating to nectar secretion. The trichomes found within the spurs of Cryptocentrum and Sepalosaccus more closely resemble the hairs of certain unrelated, nectariferous orchid taxa than those found in the largely nectarless genus Maxillaria, and this further supports the case for parallelism.
Labellum; Maxillariinae; micromorphology; nectar pore; nectary; spur; trichome
• Background and Aims The labellar ‘hairs’ of some Cymbidium spp. are said to be thin-walled and to contain ‘plasma’, oil and sugars and it has long been speculated that they may function as food-hairs. However, the present authors' preliminary studies showed that certain atypical papillae may have a different role and, by reflecting light, function as a speculum. The purpose of the paper is to test this hypothesis.
• Methods Light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, histochemistry and ultraviolet photography were used to investigate the structure, food content and light-reflecting properties of these papillae.
• Key Results and Conclusions The labellum of Cymbidium lowianum (Rchb.f.) Rchb.f. is densely clothed with obconical to conical papillae with wide bases and pointed tips. However, on either side of the median axis of the lip occur silvery patches comprising papillae with truncated tips and it is thought that these reflect light and thereby attract insect pollinators. Similar patches are also found in Cymbidium devonianum Paxton, and in both species, they are set against a reddish background, which, since bees cannot perceive this colour, probably appears dark to the insect thus enhancing the visual impact of the light-reflecting patches. In Cymbidium tigrinum Parish ex Hook. and Cymbidium mastersii Griff. ex Lindl., however, the labellum is mainly white and no light-reflecting patches were observed. Instead, unlike C. lowianum and C. devonianum, these species are highly fragrant and the attraction of insects probably depends to a greater extent on olfactory cues. In C. lowianum both types of papillae contain protein, starch and lipid bodies but only protein is seemingly present at elevated concentrations. However, lipoidal material also occurs upon the surface of the labellum and it is possible that this may be gathered by insects as reported for C. iridifolium A. Cunn (syn. C. madidum Lindl.). The labellar papillae of C. lowianum, thus, have the potential to function as food-hairs, although direct evidence for this is lacking.
Cymbidium lowianum; Cymbidium devonianum; floral rewards; food-hairs; labellum; light absorption; light reflection; papillae; speculum
Background and Aims
The floral nectary of Digitalis purpurea is a transitory organ with stomatal exudation of nectar. In this type of nectary, the nectar is thought to be transported to the exterior via intercellular ducts that traverse the nectariferous tissue. The latter is also traversed by a ramified system of phloem strands from which prenectar sugar is most probably unloaded. The aims of this study were to provide some of the basic information needed to evaluate the possible mechanism involved in nectar secretion and to discover the fate of the nectary.
The ultrastructure of the nectary was investigated at different stages of development by analysis of a series of ultrathin (7 × 10−8 m) sections 7 × 10−7 m apart from one another. Proportions of the cells typical of the nectary were documented by 3D-reconstruction and morphometry.
The phloem consisted of variably shaped sieve elements and companion cells which, as a rule, were more voluminous than the sieve elements. Direct contact between the phloem strands and intercellular ducts was observed. In contrast to the phloem, which remained structurally intact beyond the secretory phase, the nectariferous tissue exhibited degenerative changes reminiscent of programmed cell death (PCD), which started as early as the onset of secretion and progressed in a cascade-like fashion until final cell death occurred in the exhausted nectary. Hallmarks of PCD were: increased vacuolation; increase in electron opacity of individual cells; progressive incorporation of plasmatic components into the vacuole reminiscent of autophagy; degradation of plastids starting with hydrolysis of starch; deformation of the nucleus and gradual disappearance of chromatin; loss of tonoplast integrity and subsequent autolysis of the rest of cellular debris. Degeneration of the cells occurred against a background of increasing cell size.
The cytological and anatomical evidence presented here, and calculations of the solute fluxes necessary for accumulation of starch and for the production of nectar support the view that: (a) in the foxgloves' nectary, apoplastic phloem unloading dominates, at least during exudation of nectar; (b) the obsolete nectary may be dismantled by PCD; and (c) at least the products of late nectary degradation are loaded via the apoplast into the unchanged phloem and exported to sinks elsewhere in the plant for reallocation.
Floral nectary; Digitalis purpurea; 3D-reconstruction; morphometry; fluid-filled intercellular space; phloem innervation; programmed cell death; nectariferous tissue
The labella of Maxillaria acuminata Lindl., M. cerifera Barb. Rodr. and M. notylioglossa Rchb.f., all members of the M. acuminata alliance, produce a viscid wax‐like secretion. Histochemical analysis revealed that the chemical composition of the secretion is similar in all three species, consisting largely of lipid and protein. Light microscopy and low‐vacuum scanning electron microscopy were used to investigate the secretory process. In a fourth taxon, M. cf. notylioglossa, transmission electron microscopy showed that lipid bodies are associated with smooth endoplasmic reticulum or occur as plastoglobuli within plastids. Lipid bodies vary in appearance and this may reflect differences in chemical composition. They become associated with the plasmalemma and eventually accumulate between the latter and the cell wall. The wall contains no pits or ectodesmata, and it is speculated that lipid passes through the wall as small lipid moieties before eventually reassembling to form lipid globules on the external surface of the cuticle. These globules are able to coalesce forming extensive viscid areas on the labellum. The possible significance of this process to pollination is discussed.
Histochemistry; labellum, lipids; low‐vacuum scanning electron microscopy; SEM; Maxillaria; papillae; pollination; transmission electron microscopy; TEM; ultrastructure; wax
• Background and Aims Floral nectaries and nectar features were compared between six Argentinian Ipomoea species with differences in their pollinator guilds: I. alba, I. rubriflora, I. cairica, I. hieronymi var. hieronymi, I. indica, and I. purpurea.
• Methods Pollinators were recorded in natural populations. The morpho-anatomical study was carried out through scanning electron and light microscopy. Nectar sugars were identified via gas chromatography. Nectar production and the effect of its removal on total nectar sugar amount were determined by using sets of bagged flowers.
• Key Results Hymenopterans were visitors of most species, while hummingbirds visited I. rubriflora and sphingids I. alba. All the species had a vascularized discoidal nectary surrounding the ovary base with numerous open stomata with a species-specific distribution. All nectar samples contained amino acids and sugars. Most species had sucrose-dominant nectars. Flowers lasted a few hours. Mean nectar sugar concentration throughout the lifetime of the flower ranged from 34·28 to 39·42 %, except for I. cairica (49·25 %) and I. rubriflora (25·18 %). Ipomoea alba had the highest nectar volume secreted per flower (50·12 µL), while in the other taxa it ranged from 2·42 to 12·00 µL. Nectar secretion began as soon as the flowers opened and lasted for a few hours (in I. purpurea, I. rubriflora) or it was continuous during the lifetime of the flower (in the remaining species). There was an increase of total sugar production after removals in I. cairica, I. indica and I. purpurea, whereas in I. alba and I. rubriflora removals had no effect, and in I. hieronymi there was a decrease in total sugar production.
• Conclusions The chemical composition, production dynamics and removal effects of nectar could not be related to the pollinator guild of these species. Flower length was correlated with nectary size and total volume of nectar secreted, suggesting that structural constraints may play a major role in the determination of nectar traits of these species.
Nectary structure; nectar chemical composition; nectar production dynamics; nectar removal effects; pollinators; Ipomoea; Convolvulaceae; morning glory; Argentina
Nectar reabsorption is a widely known phenomenon, related to the strategy of resource-recovery and also to maintain the nectar homeostasis at the nectary. The method currently performed to demonstrate nectar being reabsorbed involves the use of radioactive tracers applied to the nectary. Although this method works perfectly, it is complex and requires specific supplies and equipment. Therefore, here we propose an efficient method to obtain a visual demonstration of nectar reabsorption, adapting the use of Lucifer Yellow CH (LYCH), a fluorescent membrane-impermeable dye that can enter the vacuole by endocytosis.
We applied a LYCH solution to the floral nectary (FN) of Cucurbita pepo L., which is a species known for its ability of nectar reabsorption, and to the extrafloral nectary (EFN) of Passiflora edulis Sims which does not reabsorb the secreted nectar. In all tests performed, we observed that LYCH stained the nectary tissues differentially according to the reabsorption ability of the nectary. The treated FN of C. pepo presented a concentrated fluorescence at the epidermis that decreased at the deeper nectary parenchyma, until reaching the vascular bundles, indicating nectar reabsorption in the flowers of the species. In contrast, treated EFN of P. edulis presented fluorescence only at the cuticle surface, indicating that nectar is not reabsorbed by that particular tissue.
LYCH is an efficient marker to demonstrate nectar reabsorption.
Cucurbita Pepo; Fluorescence Microscopy; LYCH; Nectar Pathway; Passiflora Edulis