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Plant hormone regulates nectar production
Date:3/29/2010

a, studied Brassica napus, a widespread and agriculturally important plant species. She found that when its flower tissues produced jasmonates during an early developmental stage, nectar production was immediately activated, regardless of whether the plant had been attacked by herbivores or not. "When we put caterpillars on the rapeseed leaves to elicit jasmonic acid production, the nectar secretion of the flowers was not affected," the researcher says. Spraying jasmonic acid on the green leaves also did not have an impact on the production of nectar in the flowers. However, when the scientist sprayed jasmonic acid directly on the flowers, nectar production increased dramatically. This clearly indicates that jasmonic acid has different functions in the different plant tissues: whereas the hormone activates defense mechanisms against herbivores in the leaves and the shoot of the plant, it regulates nectar production in the flower tissue.

The correlation between the production of jasmonic acid and nectar accumulation was demonstrated in experiments with an inhibitor: if the flowers had been treated with an inhibitor of jasmonic acid synthesis, the so-called phenidone, nectar production failed. If the substance was sprayed on young, still closed flower buds, however, their opening was inhibited, which confirms the importance of jasmonic acid also during the development of the flowers.

"The fact that jasmonic acid regulates so many functions, such as plant defense and pollination, is extremely interesting and raises new questions, especially concerning the evolution of these control mechanisms," says Martin Heil, the leader of the study. Wilhelm Boland, director at the Max Planck Institute in Jena, emphasizes: "The more we know about the hormonal effects on flower development and nectar production in agricultural crops like rapeseed, the better we can use this knowledge to ensure high yields." Even beekeepers could benefit from increased nectar
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Contact: Professor Martin Heil
mheil@ira.cinvestav.mx
52-462-623-9657
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

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