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The morphology, molecular development and ecological function of pseudonectaries on Nigella damascena (Ranunculaceae) petals
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Liao H, Fu XH, Zhao HQ, Cheng J, Zhang R, Yao X, Duan XS, Shan HY, Kong HZ*
PubYear : 2020
Volume :   Issue : 
Publication Name : Nature Communications
Page number : DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15658-2
Abstract : 

Pseudonectaries, or false nectaries, the glistening structures that resemble nectaries or nectar droplets but do not secrete nectar, show considerable diversity and play important roles in plant-animal interactions. The morphological nature, optical features, molecular underpinnings and ecological functions of pseudonectaries, however, remain largely unclear. Here, we show that pseudonectaries of Nigella damascena (Ranunculaceae) are tiny, regional protrusions covered by tightly arranged, non-secretory polygonal epidermal cells with flat, smooth and reflective surface, and are clearly visible even under ultraviolet light and bee vision. We also show that genes associated with cell division, chloroplast development and wax formation are preferably expressed in pseudonectaries. Specifically, NidaYABBY5, an abaxial gene with ectopic expression in pseudonectaries, is indispensable for pseudonectary development: knockdown of it led to complete losses of pseudonectaries. Notably, when flowers without pseudonectaries were arrayed beside those with pseudonectaries, clear differences were observed in the visiting frequency, probing time and visiting behavior of pollinators (i.e., honey bees), suggesting that pseudonectaries serve as both visual attractants and nectar guides.

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