Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Davis

UC Davis Previously Published Works bannerUC Davis

Nectar‐inhabiting microorganisms influence nectar volatile composition and attractiveness to a generalist pollinator

Published Web Location

The plant microbiome can influence plant phenotype in diverse ways, yet microbial contribution to plant volatile phenotype remains poorly understood. We examine the presence of fungi and bacteria in the nectar of a coflowering plant community, characterize the volatiles produced by common nectar microbes and examine their influence on pollinator preference. Nectar was sampled for the presence of nectar-inhabiting microbes. We characterized the headspace of four common fungi and bacteria in a nectar analog. We examined electrophysiological and behavioral responses of honey bees to microbial volatiles. Floral headspace samples collected in the field were surveyed for the presence of microbial volatiles. Microbes commonly inhabit floral nectar and the common species differ in volatile profiles. Honey bees detected most microbial volatiles tested and distinguished among solutions based on volatiles only. Floral headspace samples contained microbial-associated volatiles, with 2-ethyl-1-hexanol and 2-nonanone - both detected by bees - more often detected when fungi were abundant. Nectar-inhabiting microorganisms produce volatile compounds, which can differentially affect honey bee preference. The yeast Metschnikowia reukaufii produced distinctive compounds and was the most attractive of all microbes compared. The variable presence of microbes may provide volatile cues that influence plant-pollinator interactions.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View