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The study of plant secondary chemistry has been essential in understanding plant consumption by herbivores. There is growing evidence that secondary compounds also occur in floral rewards, including nectar and pollen. Many pollinators are generalist nectar and pollen foragers and thus are exposed to an array of secondary compounds in their diet. In this review we document secondary compounds in the nectar or pollen of poisonous rangeland plants of the Western United States, and the effects of these compounds on the behavior, performance, and survival of pollinators. Further, we discuss the biochemical, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms by which pollinators cope with secondary compound consumption, drawing parallels between pollinators and herbivores. Finally, we propose three avenues of future research on floral reward chemistry. Given that the majority of flowering plants require animals for pollination, understanding how floral reward chemistry affects pollinators has implications for plant reproduction in agricultural and rangeland habitats.
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Secondary Compounds in Floral Rewards of Toxic Rangeland Plants:
Impacts on Pollinators
Rebecca E. Irwin,*
Daniel Cook,
Leif L. Richardson,
Jessamyn S. Manson,
and Dale R. Gardner
Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, United States
Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Logan, Utah 84321, United
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9, Canada
ABSTRACT: The study of plant secondary chemistry has been essential in understanding plant consumption by herbivores.
There is growing evidence that secondary compounds also occur in oral rewards, including nectar and pollen. Many pollinators
are generalist nectar and pollen foragers and thus are exposed to an array of secondary compounds in their diet. This review
documents secondary compounds in the nectar or pollen of poisonous rangeland plants of the western United States and the
eects of these compounds on the behavior, performance, and survival of pollinators. Furthermore, the biochemical,
physiological, and behavioral mechanisms by which pollinators cope with secondary compound consumption are discussed,
drawing parallels between pollinators and herbivores. Finally, three avenues of future research on oral reward chemistry are
proposed. Given that the majority of owering plants require animals for pollination, understanding how oral reward chemistry
aects pollinators has implications for plant reproduction in agricultural and rangeland habitats.
KEYWORDS: alkaloid, nectar, pollen, pollinator, secondary metabolite
Rangeland plants contain secondary compounds that may
inuence the palatability and/or toxicity of the plant to cattle
and other herbivores. Plant secondary compounds are not
restricted to vegetative tissues but can also be found in plant
reproductive tissues and rewards, including nectar and
Thus, like grazing animals, pollinators are exposed
to a diverse array of secondary compounds when they collect
and consume oral rewards. Studies have documented the
identities and concentrations of secondary compounds in
nectar and pollen
as well as proposed and tested hypotheses
for the existence of these compounds in oral rewards
their costs and benets for plant tness via changes in
pollinator behavior.
Moreover, a growing number of studies
are focusing on the dietary eects of secondary compounds in
nectar and pollen on the performance of pollinators and the
biochemical, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms that
pollinators utilize when confronted with these compounds.
However, no study to our knowledge has reviewed the eects
of secondary compounds on pollinators and the mechanisms
involved. As rangeland plants can contain toxic secondary
compounds, there may be deleterious consequences to
livestock as well as benecial insects that forage on these plants.
Secondary compounds in nectar and pollen can have a range
of eects on pollinator preference and performance, from
negative to neutral to positive. Anecdotal reports of pollinators
suering toxic or lethal eects of secondary compounds are
however, few empirical studies have explicitly linked
pollinator mortality to secondary compounds in oral rewards.
More common are reports of pollinator deterrence due to
nectar secondary compounds, with evidence that compounds
from a number of chemical families elicit aversive responses in
bees, ants, and butteries.
For pollinators that do consume
secondary compounds, studies have documented deleterious
consequences such as reduced mobility,
ovary develop-
and survivorship.
It is important to note that the
negative eects of secondary compounds on pollinators are not
universal, and in some cases, consuming nectar secondary
compounds can have indirect benets for pollinators, as some
compounds found in nectar can reduce gut pathogen loads.
Moreover, low concentrations of nectar secondary compounds
can directly act as pollinator attractants in some cases,
increasing visitation rates
and even improving a pollinators
ability to remember oral cues.
The goal of this review is to highlight the identities and
concentrations of secondary compounds in the nectar and
pollen of toxic rangeland plants and their eects on pollinators.
In so doing, this review links the chemistry of plants to the diet,
performance, and survival of pollinators, organisms critical to
the reproductive success of many agricultural and rangeland
species. First, we review the occurrence of secondary
compounds in nectar and pollen using a case-study approach
of select rangeland plants of the western United States. We
focused on these plants because of their well-studied chemistry
and because they are known to be poisonous to livestock; yet,
many of these plants are reliant on pollinators for pollination,
and a growing number of studies are documenting the
chemistry of their oral rewards and subsequent eects on
pollinators. Within the context of each plant case study, we
Special Issue: Poisonous Plant Symposium, Inner Mongolia
Received: January 29, 2014
Revised: April 17, 2014
Accepted: April 26, 2014
Published: April 26, 2014
© 2014 American Chemical Society 7335 |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62, 73357344
explore how secondary compounds isolated from nectar and/or
pollen aect the behavior, reproduction, and/or survival of
pollinators. Second, because pollinators are often able to
survive the consumption of secondary compounds in nectar or
pollen, we review the biochemical, physiological, and behavioral
mechanisms by which pollinators cope with their consumption.
Given that bees are the dominant pollinators globally, we focus
most of our review on how bees cope with secondary
compound consumption and only touch on other types of
pollinators, such as Lepidoptera and birds. Finally, we propose
avenues for future research on the chemistry, biochemistry, and
ecology of secondary compounds in oral rewards from the
plants and the pollinators perspectives.
Several genera of poisonous plants are found in rangelands
throughout the world and the western United States. These
plants are typically visited by a suite of generalist pollinators or,
more rarely, by select specialists. Here we highlight eight genera
of plants (Figure 1), including their pollinators, secondary
compounds, and relevant literature describing the presence and
concentrations of these secondary compounds in oral rewards
as well as their eects on pollinators (Table 1). We focus on
alkaloid-containing plants as estimates suggest that 1025% of
angiosperm species contain alkaloids, and alkaloids are well-
known to mediate plantanimal interactions.
Zigadenus spp. (= syn. Amianthium,Anticlea,Sta-
nanthium, and Toxicoscordion;
Death Camas; Melan-
thiaceae). Reports show that several Zigadenus species,
including Zigadenus nuttallii and Zigadenus paniculatus, are
visited by a single bee, Andrena astragali, or a subset of the bee
community in the family Halictidae, whereas others such as
Zigadenus elegans are visited by ies.
Zigadenus spp.
contain a group of cevanine-type steroidal alkaloids (Table 1)
including esters of germine, protoverine, and zygadenine.
Zygacine, 1(Figure 2), an ester of zygadenine, is the major
alkaloid in Z. paniculatus and Zigadenus venenosus.
neurotoxic alkaloids bind open voltage-sensitive calcium
and are toxic to mice, sheep, and cattle.
have also been poisoned accidentally via consumption of death
camas bulbs.
Zygacine and related alkaloids can be detected
in all above-ground vegetative parts.
Moreover, preliminary
data suggest that zygacine can be detected in oral rewards,
including nectar and pollen of Z. paniculatus.
In an
experiment, adults of the generalist bee Osmia lignaria were
paralyzed and died soon after feeding on biologically relevant
doses of zygacine,
matching results suggesting toxicity of
nectar and pollen of Z. venenosus to honey bees (Apis
Larval progeny of O. lignaria also died when they
were fed provisions with zygacine.
The authors suggest that
the presence of zygacine in nectar and pollen may explain the
absence of generalist pollinators visiting this plant and that A.
astragali and pollinating ies may have adaptations to cope with
consumption of zygacine.
Veratrum spp. (Corn Lily; Melanthiaceae). The domi-
nant oral visitors of Veratrum spp., such as Veratrum album,
are ants, ies, and beetles.
In V. album there was also a single
record of a bee belonging to the Halictidae visiting the
Veratrum spp. contain a series of steroid alkaloids
termed azasteroids (Table 1), such as cyclopamine, 2(Figure
2), of which there are dierent groups, including veratranine,
jervanine, and cevanine; the cevanine types are similar to those
found in Zigadenus spp.
These alkaloids are found in roots as
well as vegetative parts and, like zygacine, are also neurotoxins
that bind open voltage-sensitive calcium channels.
ing alkaloids from V. album suppresses larval growth in house
ies (Musca vicina), an eect that dwindles as larvae mature and
has been reported in a number of nonpollinating insect
suggesting negative post-ingestive consequences for
Figure 1. Floral images of select genera of poisonous plants found in
rangelands throughout the world and the western United States: (A)
Zigadenus elegans (= syn. Anticlea elegans); (B) Veratrum californicum
(= syn V. tenuipetalum); (C) Delphinium barbeyi; (D) Aconitum
columbianum; (E) Nicotiana attenuata; (F) Lupinus prunophilus (= syn.
L. polyphyllus); (G) Senecio serra. Photographs provided courtesy and
copyright of Al Schneider (
Table 1. Ecology and Secondary Chemistry of Select Poisonous Plants of the Western United States and Impacts on Floral
plant genus secondary chemistry primary pollinators eects on oral visitors
Zigadenus cevanine-type steroidal alkaloids ies, specialized bee Andrena astragali, some bees
in the Halictidae zygacine causes mortality in Osmia lignaria
Veratrum azasteroid-type steroidal
alkaloids ants, ies, beetles, rarely bees induces mortality in house ies and honey bees
Delphinium lycoctonine-type C19
norditerpene alkaloids bees (especially bumble bees), hummingbirds dose-dependent deterrence and reductions in bee activity
Aconitum aconitine-type C19 diterpene
alkaloids bees (especially bumble bees), hummingbirds detected at trace concentrations in bumble bee tissues but
eects on bees unknown
Nicotiana piperidine and pyridine alkaloids bees, hawkmoths, hummingbirds dose-dependent deterrence and reductions in bee health and
Lupinus piperidine and quinolizidine
alkaloids solitary and social bees sparteine has both deterrent and toxic eects on honey bees
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Review |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62, 733573447336
pollinator development. Moreover, alkaloids of V. album are
sequestered by the specialist sawyRhadinoceraea nodicornis,
reducing predation by ants, spiders, and bush crickets.
However, no studies to our knowledge have documented the
identities and concentrations of alkaloids in Veratrum spp. oral
rewards, although reports exist of Veratrum californicum toxicity
to honey bees foraging in the eld.
The structural similarity
between some of the Veratrum spp. alkaloids and those found
in Zigadenus spp. leads to speculation of the possibility that
these compounds may deter generalist bee pollinators from
visiting these plants, as has also been speculated in Zigadenus
spp. This hypothesis warrants further investigation.
Delphinium spp. (Larkspur; Ranunculaceae). The
dominant oral visitors of Delphinium spp. are generalists,
including a variety of bees, especially bumble bees, as well as
The nectar of Delphinium owers is
recessed within a nectar spur, so only bees and hummingbirds
with a long proboscis or bill can reach the nectar rewards.
Delphinium spp. contain a series of C19 norditerpene alkaloids
mainly of the lycoctonine type (Table 1); several of these
alkaloids are usually found in any given species. These
lycoctonine C19 norditerpene alkaloids are divided in two
structural classes, the N-(methylsuccinimido)anth-
ranoyllycoctonine (MSAL) type, 3(Figure 2), and the 7,8-
methylenedioxylycoctonine (MDL) type, the former being
more toxic and the latter less toxic.
These alkaloids bind to
acetylcholine receptors and are toxic to mammals and
Consumption of these plants causes signicant
cattle losses on an annual basis throughout the western United
Delphinium barbeyi and Delphinium nuttallianum
contain alkaloids in vegetative and oral parts as well as the
oral rewards, including nectar and pollen.
Alkaloid concen-
trations dier between oral rewards, vegetative, and oral parts
(Figure 3), with alkaloid concentrations in the nectar being at
least 450 times less than any vegetative or oral part in both
species. Alkaloid concentrations in Delphinium pollen are likely
to be intermediate to concentrations in pollen loads and
anthers as anthers contain other tissues that may overestimate
actual pollen concentrations, whereas pollen loads contain
nectar that may underestimate pollen concentrations.
alkaloid prole observed in oral rewards is qualitatively similar
to the prole found in vegetative parts in both species. Bees fed
sugar water supplemented with Delphinium alkaloids exhibited
Figure 2. Chemical structures of zygacine, 1, a steroidal alkaloid from
Zigadenus spp.; cyclopamine, 2, a steroidal alkaloid from Veratrum
spp.; methyllycaconitine, 3, a norditerpene alkaloid from Delphinium
spp.; aconitine, 4, a diterpene alkaloid from Aconitum spp.; nicotine, 5,
a pyridine alkaloid from Nicotiana spp.; lupanine, 6, a quinolizidine
alkaloid from Lupinus spp.; and senecionine, 7, a pyrrolizidine alkaloid
from Senecio spp.
Figure 3. Total alkaloid amounts in dierent plant parts of (A)
Delphinium barbeyi and (B) Delphinium nuttallianum. Bars are means +
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Review |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62, 733573447337
reduced activity, but only at concentrations at least 50 times
higher than those detected in oral nectar.
D. barbeyi owers
supplemented with alkaloids had fewer visits by bee pollinators,
and bees spent less time per visit, but the eect was
concentration dependent.
Whereas D. barbeyi nectar alkaloid
concentrations within the natural range had no eect on bee
behavior, alkaloid concentrations higher than reported in nature
strongly deterred pollinators, suggesting an adaptive benetto
low nectar alkaloid concentrations to encourage pollination.
Aconitum spp. (Monkshood; Ranunculaceae). Aconitum
spp. are typically visited by generalist pollinators, including
bumble bees and hummingbirds, and in rare instances by
The owers of Aconitum spp. are characterized
by one of their petaloid sepals forming a hood that holds two
nectar spurs on stalks; thus, like Delphinium spp., nectar is only
accessible to visitors with a long proboscis. Aconitum spp.
contain a series of C19 diterpene alkaloids mainly of the
aconitine type, 4(Table 1; Figure 2). Aconitine-type alkaloids
are neurotoxic and cardiotoxic to insects and mammals,
including livestock; however, there are few livestock morbidity
reports from consumption of Aconitum as it is seldom eaten in
sucient quantity to cause mortality.
Gosselin et al.
reported alkaloid concentrations in dierent plant parts as
well as oral rewards in Aconitum septentrionale. Alkaloid
concentrations in pollen were similar to leaf and ower
concentrations, whereas concentrations in nectar were
signicantly lower. Lappaconitine was the dominant alkaloid
in all plant parts investigated including the oral rewards,
although some dierences were observed in the rank order of
abundance of other alkaloids between other tissues and oral
rewards. A. septentrionale pollen contains alkaloids in concen-
trations above the LD50 concentrations for most alkaloids
tested by Detzel and Wink
on honey bees, suggesting the
potential for post-consumptive eects on pollinator perform-
ance. However, eects of A. septentrionale alkaloids on bumble
bee pollinator larval survival and performance remain unknown.
Additionally, Gosselin et al.
detected the alkaloid lappaconi-
tine in the tissues of the specialist bumble bee Bombus
consobrinus but not the generalist Bombus wurenii. Whether
this observation has any biological signicance or results in a
tness benet is not known.
Nicotiana spp. (Tobacco; Solanaceae). Nicotiana spp. are
visited by a suite of generalist pollinators, including bees,
hawkmoths, and hummingbirds. Nicotiana spp. contain several
piperidine and pyridine alkaloids (Table 1), including nicotine,
5(Figure 2), that can be toxic to insects and mammals.
Nicotine acts as a stimulant and binds as an agonist to nicotinic
acetylcholine receptors. Nicotine is synthesized in the root and
transported to all above-ground plant parts, including oral
with nicotine concentrations in leaves and
owers being greater than that in nectar. In general, species that
contain greater concentrations of nicotine in leaves have greater
amounts of nicotine in their nectar.
Nicotine can reduce the
amount of time spent per ower, as well as the amount of
nectar removed per visit, by hawkmoth and hummingbird
However, the deterrent eects of nicotine in
nectar can be dose-dependent
and dependent on nectar-
sugar concentration,
and even at the highest concentrations of
nicotine in articial nectar, there is not complete deterrence.
Moreover, Singaravelan et al.
found that nectar with low
nicotine concentrations is preferred by honey bees over nectar
that contains no nicotine, suggesting that low nicotine
concentrations may act as attractants or feeding cues. Nicotine
consumption also has dose-dependent eects on honey bee
health and survival.
Lupinus spp. (Lupine; Fabaceae). The pea-like owers of
Lupinus spp. have an upper banner petal and two lower petals
fused into a keel. Pollinators must be strong enough to push
down the keel to gain access to the pollen, and in some cases
nectar, with bees being the most common pollinators. Lupinus
spp. contain piperidine and quinolizidine alkaloids (Table 1),
such as lupanine, 6(Figure 2), that bind to nicotinic and
muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. These alkaloids are toxic to
livestock and are thought to provide protection against natural
enemies, including insects.
Detzel and Wink
alkaloids in the pollen of Lupinus polyphyllus, with pollen
alkaloid concentrations being 5 times less than that in owers
and 27 times less than that in leaves. Sparteine, identied in L.
polyphyllus pollen, has both deterrent and toxic eects on honey
bees in the laboratory.
Other Genera. There are several other toxic rangeland
plant genera of the western United States, including Senecio
spp. (Asteraceae) and Echium spp. (Boraginaceae). Senecio spp.
are visited by a suite of generalist pollinators; Echium spp. such
as Echium vulgare can be visited by generalist species of bumble
bees in their introduced range in North America but are also
the host plants of several oligolectic bees in their native range.
Senecio and Echium spp. both contain pyrrolizidine alka-
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, such as senecionine, 7(Figure
2), are hepatotoxic to livestock and are thought to provide
protection to the plants against natural enemies, including
These alkaloids have been detected in the pollen and/
or owers (or orets) of dierent species within each genus.
Moreover, pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been detected in honey
from Echium
and Senecio;
whether these alkaloids in
honey come from pollen, nectar, or both reward sources
remains to be determined. 1,2-Unsaturated tertiary pyrrolizi-
dine alkaloids of Senecio vernalis were toxic to honey bees at a
concentration of 2% in the laboratory, and honey bees were
deterred by pyrrolizidine-N-oxides at concentrations >0.2%.
How common these eects are on the preference and
performance of other pollinators remains to be investigated.
Synthesis. Three general patterns emerge from examination
of the case studies. First, secondary compound concentrations
in nectar tend to be lower than in pollen or leaves. Second,
pollen secondary compound concentrations can, in some cases,
be equal to or even higher than those concentrations found in
leaves. Third, secondary compounds in oral rewards can act as
lters on the community of species visiting owers, sometimes
discouraging visitation by nonspecialist pollinators or nectar
robbers or thieves, which could increase the chance of pollen
transfer for plants. The ecological and evolutionary implications
of these patterns for both plants and pollinators remain to be
explored in most cases, and the biochemical and physiological
mechanisms behind secondary compounds in nectar are an
active area of research.
Given that pollinators are exposed to secondary compounds in
their diet and frequently survive after consuming these
compounds, pollinators, like herbivores, may have mechanisms
to cope with the consumption of secondary compounds.
Indeed, pollinators and herbivores likely use some of the same
biochemical, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms. We
focus our review primarily on how bee pollinators survive the
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Review |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62, 733573447338
consumption of secondary compounds, but we note that the
frugivory literature
may also provide testable predictions for
how vertebrate pollinators cope with the consumption of not
only fruit but also nectar or pollen with secondary compounds.
Moreover, we broaden this portion of the review beyond
alkaloids to include other classes of secondary compounds that
can occur in oral rewards and how pollinators cope with their
consumption, including phenolics and terpenoids.
Biochemical and Physiological Mechanisms. There are
a variety of biochemical and physiological mechanisms that may
help bees survive the consumption of secondary compounds,
including detoxication, conjugation, target-site insensitivity,
sequestration, rapid excretion, and endosymbionts. Although
these mechanisms have been studied in greater depth in
herbivores, there is some evidence that bees and/or other
pollinators also use some of the same types of mechanisms,
with the most literature documenting detoxication.
Detoxication. A common way that animals cope with a
variety of potentially toxic compounds is through enzymatic
conversion to less toxic forms that can then be eliminated. One
of the most prominent superfamilies of enzymes is the
cytochrome P450 superfamily of monooxygenases that catalyze
the oxidation of organic substances. P450s are present in a wide
diversity of prokaryotic and eukaryotic taxa, including
pollinating bees. For bees, the diversity and activity of P450s
have been studied in the most depth in honey bees and to a
lesser extent in bumble bees. Honey and bumble bees contain
signicantly fewer P450 genes than other insect genomes, such
as ies;
for example, the honey bee genome contains only 46
P450 genes, almost half that contained in other insect
Why bee genomes are relatively depauperate in
detoxication genes relative to other insects remains an active
area of research, especially given the generalized foraging
strategy of most solitary and social bees. However, one relevant
hypothesis is that because nectar and sometimes pollen have
lower concentrations of secondary compounds than leaves,
natural selection for detoxication genes in bees may be weaker
than that in phytophagous insects,
the adults of which may
nectar-feed but larvae feed on leaf material.
Nonetheless, a number of P450s in bees have been
implicated in the metabolism of secondary compounds found
in nectar and pollen as well as xenobiotics, such as acaricides
used to control Varroa mites,
and the CYP6 family of P450s
has shown expansion relative to other insect genomes and may
be involved in the metabolism of phytochemicals found in
nectar, pollen, and honey.
For example, quercetin, a
avonoid found in honey and pollen, is metabolized by ve
enzymes in the CYP6AS and CYP9Q subfamilies of P450s.
In a similar vein, phytochemicals found in pollen and honey,
such as p-coumaric acid, result in the up-regulation of
detoxication genes.
p-Coumaric acid is ubiquitous in pollen
and nonltered honey and, although unlikely to be toxic to
bees, it may serve as a predictable cue for the up-regulation of
detoxication genes against a wide variety of secondary
compounds. Honey bees are also exposed to plant secondary
compounds when they gather resins from vegetation to
produce propolis, a sticky substance used in hive maintenance
and architecture.
A set of propolis-derived phenolic
compounds, such as pinocembrin and pinobanksin, are present
in most honeys, where they are considered minor contami-
These compounds have also been shown to up-regulate
P450 detoxication genes.
Along with P450s, other enzyme systems may also play a role
in metabolic detoxication, including the carboxylesterases
(COEs). COEs catalyze the hydrolysis of esters into amino
acids and alcohol. For example, albeit to a lesser extent than
P450s, COEs may also be responsible for the detoxication of
insecticides derived from pyrethrins naturally
occurring in Tanacetum spp. daisies. Like the P450s, there are
only about half as many COE protein-coding genes compared
to other insect genomes.
Additionally, the expression and
thus activity of the various detoxication genes may vary as a
function of bee sex and/or exposure at a particular life history
Conjugation. Conjugation, another form of detoxication,
involves the production of a compound that binds to the
secondary compound, which is thus rendered harmless and
For example, the superfamily of glutathione S-
transferases (GSTs) can catalyze the conjugation of exogeneous
toxins, including pyrethroids (originally derived from plants)
and other xenobiotics.
Treatment with the pyrethroid
umethrin increased GST activity in larvae, pupae, and nurse
honey bees.
However, in another study exploring honey bee
tolerance to pyrethroids, Johnson et al.
found that GSTs did
not contribute signicantly to honey bee pyrethroid tolerance.
To our knowledge, the role of conjugation as a countermeasure
for secondary compound consumption is not well explored in
bees and warrants further research.
Target-Site Insensitivity. Target-site insensitivity occurs
when there is a change at a neuroreceptor site for a particular
secondary compound that subsequently inhibits or excludes
binding, or when there is a change in the number of receptors
for a particular compound, and is a primary mechanism by
which herbivores can become resistant to pesticides.
Although the role of target-site insensitivity to secondary
compounds is relatively unexplored in bees, it may play a role in
other types of pollinators consuming secondary compounds.
For example, target-site insensitivity to milkweed (Asclepias
spp.) cardenolides occurs in a number of herbivores, including
the monarch buttery(Danus plexippus; Lepidoptera) and four
other insect orders (Heteroptera, Orthoptera, Coleoptera, and
Because D. plexippus adults can also act as
pollinators of milkweed and milkweed nectar can contain
toxic cardenolides,
it is plausible that target-site insensitivity
may also play a role in allowing adults to cope with the
consumption of secondary compounds. We should note,
however, that target-site insensitivity is not universal in
herbivores that feed on cardenolides; for example, arctiid
moths feeding on cardenolides may use the perineurium
surrounding the nervous tissue as a barrier, preventing
cardenolides from reaching the Na+/K+-ATPase in the central
nerve cord.
Nonetheless, adults sometimes nectar feed on the
same host plants as their folivorous larvae. These cases may
provide insights into the biochemical and physiological
mechanisms that adult pollinators use to cope with these
Sequestration. Some foliar herbivores concentrate and
retain secondary compounds from their diets, a phenomenon
known as sequestration.
As most pollinators consume plant
material, it is possible that they too sequester secondary
metabolites, but this has been studied for only a few pollination
systems. Several species of male ithomiine butteries
(Nymphalidae: Danainae) avidly seek and consume oral
nectars containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which they seques-
These alkaloids deter predators,
serve as pheromone
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Review |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62, 733573447339
precursors, and operate in a sexual selection mating system.
In another example, Southeast Asian Bulbophyllum orchids
attract their fruit y (Tephritidae) pollinators with phenyl-
propanoid secretions including zingerone and methyleugenol;
male ies sequester these compounds, converting them to sex
It is possible that bees might also sequester secondary
compounds, because their diet consists almost entirely of nectar
and pollen that often contain those compounds, and other
herbivorous Hymenoptera such as sawies commonly sequester
compounds such as iridoid glycosides and glucosinolates.
the only study to our knowledge that has investigated
sequestration by bees, Gosselin et al.
reported trace amounts
of six alkaloids in the tissues of a bumble bee species foraging
on Aconitum septentrionale, including the aconitine-type alkaloid
lappaconitine, the major alkaloid in pollen and nectar; however,
there was no evidence that bees concentrated the alkaloids.
Sequestration is most often found in insects with specialized
diets, and given that 20% of bees specialize in their pollen
collections, the possibility of sequestration of secondary
compounds by bees is a research avenue that deserves further
Rapid Excretion. Rapid excretion of secondary compounds
either with or without detoxication may serve as another
mechanism by which pollinators cope with the consumption of
these compounds. One striking example is the reduced gut
retention time following consumption of secondary compounds
involving Palestine sunbirds (Nectarinia osea) feeding on the
nectar of tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca). The nectar of N.
glauca contains the pyridine alkaloids anabasine and nicotine.
Gut transit time of a sugar solution containing either of the
pyridine alkaloids was signicantly lower when compared to
that of birds fed a sugar solution without the alkaloids.
authors suggest that consuming pyridine alkaloids may induce a
laxative eect, as is observed in mammals that consume plant
material containing pyridine alkaloids, which results in
accelerated gut transit time due to increased tone and activity
of the intestinal smooth muscles.
A laxative eect of
secondary compounds may be common in other plant-
pollinator systems as well but remains to be tested widely.
Endosymbionts. Many species of invertebrates harbor
endosymbiotic microbes in their guts, which may play a role
in the detoxication of secondary compounds.
Bees interact
with specic suites of horizontally transmitted bacteria
mediate immune responses to gut pathogens
and may play a
role in digestion of plant foods.
Some phytophagous beetles
interact with endosymbiotic gut fungi that assimilate carbon
from their hostsdiets, sometimes detoxifying alkaloids and
other potentially toxic compounds to do so.
Although a
detoxifying eect has not been demonstrated for endosymbiotic
fungi of pollinators such as bees, the possibility is worth
exploring given that bees harbor a diversity of gut fungi.
Behavioral Mechanisms. Behavioral mechanisms may also
help pollinators cope with secondary compounds. Here we
highlight three strategies: avoidance, diet mixing, and storage.
Avoidance. Biochemical and physiological mechanisms to
cope with secondary compounds usually occur or are induced
following compound ingestion. In contrast, behavioral mech-
anisms such as avoidance (or deterrence) can prevent
pollinators from consuming or collecting nectar or pollen
with secondary compounds prior to tasting their food (i.e., via
olfactory or visual cues) as well as reduce feeding once a
foraging choice has been made (i.e., via reduced per-ower visit
length or the number of owers visited per plant). For example,
the darkly colored nectar of the South African aloe Aloe
vryheidensis may serve as a warning to some oral visitors of the
bitter-tasting phenolic nectar, albeit other visitors might nd
such coloration attractive.
In comparison, high concen-
trations of nectar alkaloids in Gelsemium sempervirens have no
eect on whether or not a plant is visited, but do aect oral
visitor behavior once pollinators have tasted the nectar,
reducing the proportion of owers visited per plant and the
time spent per ower.
Secondary compounds in oral rewards may not only aect
adult foragers but also their ospring when bees collect nectar
and pollen to provision to their larvae. Just as adult
phytophagous insects can avoid exposing their larvae to toxic
plants by not ovipositing on them,
adult bees could similarly
limit larval exposure to secondary compounds by reduced
nectar and pollen gathering from sources with oral secondary
compounds. In Lepidoptera, the link between oviposition
preference and ospring performance can be genetically
The degree to which such preferenceperform-
ance matches occur and are genetically determined in bees is
less explored. One strong dierence, however, between
phytophagous insects and bees is that, in some cases, adult
phytophagous insects are unable to determine which plants are
suitable for their larval ospring,
but larvae can move
between plant species if poor oviposition choices are made.
In contrast, bee larvae typically cannot use movement as a
behavior to avoid feeding on unsuitable provisions, including
those that may have secondary compounds, and thus are forced
to eat provisions that may be distasteful and/or toxic.
Diet Mixing. Like many mammalian herbivores, most bees
are dietary generalists and are thus exposed to a great diversity
of plant secondary compounds. Mixing the products of many
plants could dilute the negative eects of any one compound,
thereby allowing generalists to exploit a food base that includes
nectar and pollen containing secondary compounds.
Research with solitary bees (Osmia spp.: Megachilidae)
demonstrates that foragers will incur greater energetic costs
than necessary to assemble pollen loads from a variety of plant
species, rather than a single species near the nest,
and that
bees may develop normally on pollen mixtures that contain up
to 50% of a toxic pollen that is lethal when consumed alone.
This increased energy expenditure to collect pollen from a
variety of plant species may be a mechanism to prevent larval
toxicity and/or to balance nutrient acquisition, although such
hypotheses warrant further investigation.
Storage. There is evidence that pollinators can avoid
negative consequences of secondary compound consumption
through social behaviors such as honey production and storage.
Honey is the product of enzymatic conversion and dehydration
of oral nectar by honey bees and related Apidae.
oxidase, a product of the hypopharyngeal gland of nurse honey
bees, may deactivate (or suppress induction of) alkaloids
lower the secondary compound content of plant nectar within
the hive.
Moreover, honey bees maintain a nest homeo-
stasis that is high in temperature and low in CO2relative to the
environment, which promotes the modication and/or
degradation of phenolic compounds.
However, toxic honeys
have long been known
and may also contain unadulterated
secondary compounds such as the grayanotoxins of Rhododen-
dron (Ericaceae).
Although there are reports of nectars that
are toxic to bees
and some honey is toxic to humans, we do
not know whether such toxic honeysare toxic to the bees that
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Review |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62, 733573447340
produce them. Future research should examine the role of
apparently toxic honey in the ecology of social bees.
Exciting challenges remain in the study of secondary
compounds in oral rewards. Throughout this review we
have highlighted a diversity of topics warranting further
investigation. Here we highlight three areas that we believe
are particularly promising for future research.
Chemistry and Biochemistry of Secondary Com-
pounds in Floral Rewards. Plant secondary compounds
have been quintessential in the study of plantherbivore
interactions, and there is growing recognition that these
compounds occur in oral rewards.
A historical survey of
plants suggests the commonality of secondary compounds in
with 55% of plants surveyed containing nonprotein
amino acids in their nectar, 36% containing phenolics, and 9%
containing alkaloids. However, few studies have identied and
measured actual concentrations of secondary compounds in
nectar and/or pollen rewards and how they relate to secondary
compound expression in a whole-plant context.
Measuring secondary compounds in oral rewards within a
whole-plant context provides an ideal opportunity to test
predictions about compound expression related to optimal
defense theory.
A variety of analytical tools are now
available to measure both within-species and among-species
variation in oral reward chemistry, including large-scale,
nontargeted metabolomics approaches.
There is a dearth of information not only on the identities
and concentrations of secondary compounds in oral rewards
but also of the origin of these reward components. Especially
within the context of nectar, where nectar secondary
compounds are produced and how they are added to the
nectar remain mysteries in most cases. Studies that measure
nectar secondary compounds within a whole-plant context
should also consider measuring their identities and concen-
trations in the phloem sap. Doing so may help to identify those
compounds that are manufactured by the nectary itself versus
those that come from the phloem sap and thus may be a
pleiotropic consequence of plant defense against herbivores.
Physiological and molecular research into the secretion
mechanisms of secondary compounds may also help to identify
compounds that serve an adaptive function.
Costs and Benets of Secondary Compound Con-
sumption for Pollinators. Studies that have focused on the
costs and benets of secondary compounds in oral rewards
have in many cases been phytocentric, measuring their eect on
plant tness via changes in pollinator behavior.
However, as
consumers of nectar and pollen, pollinators such as bees are
exposed to a diverse array of secondary compounds in their
diet. Thus, there is nearly unlimited opportunity to assess how
secondary compounds in a pollinators diet aect performance
and tness and to assess the mechanisms involved. Since the
1800s, there has been recognition that honeys can become
contaminated with oral products from nectar and pollen that
are harmful to human health, and so it is logical to extend these
eects to natural consumers of nectar and pollen. The handful
of studies conducted thus far show variable eects of secondary
compounds on pollinator performance, even when the same
compound is explored. For example, the nectar alkaloid
gelsemine reduced oocyte width in subordinate but not
dominant bumble bees of Bombus impatiens,
whereas the
same nectar alkaloid had no eect on larval survival or weight of
the solitary bee Osmia lignaria.
Future research should
consider that secondary compounds in oral rewards may have
not only costs for pollinator preference, performance, and
tness but also potentially benets and that the relative costs
versus benets may be dependent on the identify and
concentration of secondary compound consumed. Moreover,
more mechanistic studies are needed from a diversity of
approaches, including molecular, biochemical, physiological,
and behavioral, that explore how pollinators cope with and
benet from secondary compound consumption and the
potential consequences for interactions with other factors,
including xenobiotics and parasites. Given widespread concerns
over pollinator declines, a mechanistic exploration into how
pollinators survive secondary compound consumption may
provide insights into how pollinators handle chemical exposure
in rangeland and agricultural habitats.
Role of Secondary Compounds in Pollen. Whereas the
costs and benets of nectar secondary compounds are
becoming more widely explored,
research on secondary
compounds in pollen has lagged behind. One challenge with
the study of pollen is its dual role, both as a gamete for plants
and as a reward for pollen-harvesting bees. Nonetheless,
research to date suggests that pollen secondary compound
concentrations can sometimes mirror or even be higher than
those in owers or leaves, albeit sometimes less chemically
Whether pollen secondary compounds are
simply a pleiotropic consequence of plant defense and
development or whether they serve an adaptive function
remains to be tested in most cases. Studies that explore pollen
secondary compounds using a comparative phylogenetic
approach and that incorporate research both from the plants
and the oral visitors perspective will provide important
scientic insights.
Corresponding Author
*(R.E.I.) Phone: (603) 646-3688. Fax: (603) 646-1347. E-mail:
L.L.R. was funded by a grant from the National Science
Foundation during the writing of this review (DEB-1256817).
Any opinions, ndings, and conclusions or recommendations
expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reect the views of the National Science
The authors declare no competing nancial interest.
We thank J. Andicoechea, Z. Gezon, R. Molyneux, G. Pardee,
R. Schaeer, C. Urbanowicz, and two anonymous reviewers for
comments on the manuscript and J. Cane for permission to cite
unpublished data.
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... Other secondary metabolites (e.g. alkaloids, non-volatile terpenoids, phenolic acids/ esters) frequently occur as functionally important components in floral tissue, pollen or nectar (Kessler and Baldwin 2006;Roshchina et al. 2009;Dick et al. 2011;Irwin et al. 2014;Tohge et al. 2016;Paul et al. 2019). ...
... The different biotic and abiotic factors often exert opposing selective pressures on particular floral traits, such as pigmentation, nectar contents and scent (Frey 2004;Kessler and Baldwin 2006;Theis et al. 2007;Irwin et al. 2014;Farré-Armengol et al. 2013. Although natural acclimation responses in flowering plants include modifications in floral traits, unusual changes in an environmental factor (e.g. ...
... zygacine) as to deter most generalist pollinators while attracting specialist insects such as Andrena astragali, whereas the alkaloid contents (e.g. cyclopamine) of corn lilies (Veratrum spp.) are sequestered by the specialist forager sawfly Rhadinoceraea nodicornis as its own defence system against predators (Irwin et al. 2014). Pollen semiochemicals are required for multi-faceted activities, such as filtering visitors (e.g. ...
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Floral displays constitute signals conveyed to potential pollinators by pigments and fragrance compounds, which are secondary metabolites biosynthesized through a limited number of major metabolic pathways. In recent years, the role of defensive secondary metabolites, targeted to tolerate/resist herbivory, pathogen-borne diseases and other kinds of stress, has become apparent in the context of floral displays. Apart from pigments and volatile compounds, these defensive compounds include alkaloids, specialized molecules such as glucosinolates (in Brassicaceae), and proanthocyanidin phenolics. All these functionally overlapping groups of metabolites vary in floral concentrations under different kinds of environmental conditions as well as due to endogenous regulatory factors, resulting in metabolic and functional synergies or trade-offs according to the physiological status of the flowers. In this review, we discuss such associations among varying secondary metabolites in flowers, and their implications in context of plant stress-response mechanisms.
... The abundance of managed and wild pollinators is declining throughout the world due to multiple factors, including the presence of pesticides, pollutants, parasites, diseases, predators, toxic flora, invasive species, and/or a combination of multiple stressors (Goulson et al., 2015;Klein et al., 2017;Wright et al., 2018;Ojija et al., 2019). Other studies have shown that secondary metabolites can affect bee species with differing levels of severity (Köhler et al., 2012;Manson et al., 2013;Irwin et al., 2014;Tiedeken et al., 2016;Stevenson, 2019). These secondary metabolites are important since they defend plants against over consumption by herbivores and microbes (Huang et al.,2012), but they also have a cost in terms of pollination services by attracting beneficial or repelling less efficient pollinators (Baker, 1977;Adler, 2000;Gegear et al., 2007;Irwin et al., 2010Irwin et al., , 2014Barlow et al., 2017;Palmer-Young et al., 2019). ...
... Other studies have shown that secondary metabolites can affect bee species with differing levels of severity (Köhler et al., 2012;Manson et al., 2013;Irwin et al., 2014;Tiedeken et al., 2016;Stevenson, 2019). These secondary metabolites are important since they defend plants against over consumption by herbivores and microbes (Huang et al.,2012), but they also have a cost in terms of pollination services by attracting beneficial or repelling less efficient pollinators (Baker, 1977;Adler, 2000;Gegear et al., 2007;Irwin et al., 2010Irwin et al., , 2014Barlow et al., 2017;Palmer-Young et al., 2019). These secondary metabolites and their effects may also help us to understand the deviation in choice of pollinator foraging. ...
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The thunder god vine, Tripterygium hypoglaucum, is a toxic nectar plant distributed across China. A terpenoid, called triptolide (TRP), found in nectar can impair honeybees’ foraging responses, dance communication, and olfactory learning. In the present study, we tested the tolerances of the native honeybee Apis cerana and the introduced honeybee A. mellifera to short-term and long-term exposure to TRP. The results showed that introduced A. mellifera is more vulnerable in fatality to high concentrations of TRP sucrose solution (5 and 10 µg TRP mL⁻¹) than A. cerana. We also compared the short-term and long-term exposure effects of TRP on olfactory learning and memory between the two honeybee species, and the olfactory learning and memory of both honey bee species showed impaired performance after both 2 hours or 7 days of being fed with TRP sucrose solution. However, A. cerana showed a higher tolerance and resistance to TRP toxin than A. mellifera. Our results support a coevolution hypothesis in that the native species A. cerana has higher toxin tolerance than the introduced species A. mellifera.
... For example, grayanotoxin 1 is a defense chemical in the vegetative tissues of Rhododendron simsii (Scott-Brown et al., 2016), but also occurs in the nectar of other Rhododendron species at concentrations that are toxic to western honey bees (Apis mellifera) and the mining bee Andrena scotica (although not to bumble bees) (Tiedeken et al., 2016). The presence of toxic chemicals in nectar is counter-intuitive, since nectar is a reward for pollinators (Adler, 2000;Irwin et al., 2014;Stevenson et al., 2017). The occurrence of defense compounds in pollen is less surprising, since pollen 1) contains the male gametes, making it a high priority tissue (Rivest and Forrest, 2020), and 2) represents a significant investment of nitrogen, which is frequently a limiting resource for plants. ...
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Floral nectar and pollen commonly contain diverse secondary metabolites. While these compounds are classically thought to play a role in plant defense, recent research indicates that they may also reduce disease in pollinators. Given that parasites have been implicated in ongoing bee declines, this discovery has spurred interest in the potential for ‘medicinal’ floral products to aid in pollinator conservation efforts. We review the evidence for antiparasitic effects of floral products on bee diseases, emphasizing the importance of investigating the mechanism underlying antiparasitic effects, including direct or host-mediated effects. We discuss the high specificity of antiparasitic effects of even very similar compounds, and highlight the need to consider how nonadditive effects of multiple compounds, and the post-ingestion transformation of metabolites, mediate the disease-reducing capacity of floral products. While the bulk of research on antiparasitic effects of floral products on bee parasites has been conducted in the lab, we review evidence for the impact of such effects in the field, and highlight areas for future research at the floral product-bee disease interface. Such research has great potential both to enhance our understanding of the role of parasites in shaping plant-bee interactions, and the role of plants in determining bee-parasite dynamics. This understanding may in turn reveal new avenues for pollinator conservation.
... Some of the defensive mechanisms used by alkaloids include repellence of predator through being toxic or being having a bitter taste, or through repair of damage by the antioxidant system [91,92]. Visitors of flower may be attracted by the stimulant potentials of some alkaloids, while duration of visit may be regulated by non-fatal toxicity [93]. This metabolic versatility of alkaloids result in significant improvement in the rates of survival for plants and also provide essential pharmacological actions for the therapeutic potential including antioxidant, anti-tumoral, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects [89]. ...
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Revive capsule, also called Kedi Revive capsule is a polyherbal formulation manufactured by Kedi healthcare company limited in Hong Kong, China. The drug is widely used around the globe, especially in Africa and Asia for the treatment of erectile dysfunction or enhancement of libido in men. Each capsule contains 400 mg of the constituent herbs including 80 mg of herb Epimedii, 80mg of Radix ginseng, 40 mg of Cordyceps militaris, 80mg of Tribulus terrestris, 80mg of Radix polygoni multiflori, and 40 mg of Eucommia ulmoides, with its effects exerted four hours after administration via the oral route. The adult man dosage is two capsules (800 mg) to be taken once daily for at least 28 days (before significant improvements may be observed when used to treat erectile dysfunction). Phytochemical analysis of the drug reported the presence of flavonoids, cardiac glycosides, tannins, polyphenols, alkaloids and quinones. Due to its speculated use in the treatment of erectile dysfunction or enhancement of libido, it may be referred to as an herbal phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitor, that acts by selectively inhibiting the enzyme phosphodiesterase type-5, and thus enhancing increased arterial blood flow into the penis, which results in penile erection; however, the mechanism of action of this drug may be attributed to the contained phytochemicals. Additionally, due to its increased use, it is highly recommended that further studies be conducted on this drug to ascertain its effects on some biochemical components and vital organs of the body.
... The honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) is an important species due to its contribution to pollination services and food production (vanEngelsdorp and Meixner, 2010). Honey bees as well as other pollinators, are nectar and pollen foragers and thus are exposed to an extensive array of pesticides and phytochemicals in their diet (Irwin et al., 2014a;Crenna et al., 2020). Phytochemicals are bioactive organic compounds that occur naturally in plants and some have disease preventing or protective properties. ...
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The losses of honey bee colonies and declines of other insect pollinators have been associated with negative effects of pesticides. Honey bees as well as other pollinators are nectar and pollen foragers and thus are exposed to an extensive range of phytochemicals. Understanding the synergistic, additive, and antagonistic effects of plant secondary metabolites and pesticides in honey bees may help to protect honey bee colonies against agrochemicals. In this study, we used untargeted metabolomics to investigate the impact of dietary phytochemical composition on the residual concentration of three pesticides: imidacloprid, tau-fluvalinate and tebuconazole in exposed honey bees. Honey bees were given different diets based on pollen or nectar from four plants: Reseda odorata, Borago officinalis, Phacelia tanacetifolia, and Trifolium repens for two days. Thereafter, they were orally exposed to 10 ng/bee imidacloprid or contact-exposed to 0.9 μg/bee tau-fluvalinate or 5 μg/bee tebuconazole. After 1 h of oral exposure or 24 h of contact exposure, the honey bees were anaesthetised with CO2, sacrificed by freezing, extracted with a validated QuEChERS method, and residual pesticide concentrations were determined by LC-QTRAP-MS/MS. The phytochemical composition in the given diets were profiled with an UHPLC-Q Exactive-MS/MS. The results revealed that the dietary phytochemical composition has a noteworthy influence on the concentration of residual pesticides in honey bees. The correlation coefficient analysis demonstrated that flavonoids have a reducing effect on the residual concentration of imidacloprid and tau-fluvalinate in honey bees. The results also highlighted that exposure to imidacloprid impaired the metabolism of sugars in honey bees. Exploiting flavonoid-rich plants may protect honey bees against pesticides and hold promise as forage plants in future beekeeping.
... Although this is still an area of research in its infancy, these studies demonstrate the potential for phytochemicals to positively impact honey bee physiology and disease resistance, 13−19 yet phytochemicals with toxic effects are also known. 20,21 Collectively, these observations emphasize the need for fundamental research aiming at disentangling the role of bioactive phytochemicals in honey bee health. Clarification of phytochemical uptake and metabolization processes in honey bees are essential steps toward achieving this understanding and potentially implementing healthpromoting compounds in apiculture. ...
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The honey bee pollen/nectar diet is rich in bioactive phytochemicals and recent studies have demonstrated the potential of phytochemicals to influence honey bee disease resistance. To unravel the role of dietary phytochemicals in honey bee health it is essential to understand phytochemical uptake, bioavailability, and metabolism but presently limited knowledge exists. With this study we aim to build a knowledge foundation. For 5 days, we continuously fed honey bees on eight individual phytochemicals and measured the concentrations in whole and dissected bees by HPLC-MS/MS. Ample phytochemical metabolization was observed, and only 6–30% of the consumed quantities were recovered. Clear differences in metabolization rates were evident, with atropine, aucubin, and triptolide displaying significantly slower metabolism. Phytochemical gut uptake was also demonstrated, and oral bioavailability was 4–31%, with the highest percentages observed for amygdalin, triptolide, and aucubin. We conclude that differences in the chemical properties and structure impact phytochemical uptake and metabolism.
... In recent decades considerable progress has been made in providing evidence that points to the involvement of nectar chemistry in the interactions between plants and a variety of organisms (Nepi 2014;Stevenson et al. 2017). Although there is wide variability in nectar traits (Pacini et al. 2003;Nocentini et al. 2013;Irwin et al. 2014), a general paradigm shared by plants is balancing nectar chemical composition in order to not deter specific pollinators exceeding their tolerance thresholds (Baker and Baker 1975;Adler 2000;Nicolson 2007;Wright et al. 2013;Stevenson et al. 2017). For example, a small increase in nectar sugar concentration can increase its viscosity (Harder 1986;Nicolson and Thornburg 2007), which is strongly related to the energy required by nectar consumers to visit flowers (Corbet 1978;Josens and Farina 2001;Borrell and Krenn 2006;Nepi and Stpiczyńska 2006;Kim et al. 2011). ...
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Floral nectar is a chemically complex aqueous solution within which several secondary metabolites have been identified that affect attractiveness for pollinators. Understanding preferences and aversions to nectar quality in flower visitors is crucial since this may influence the patterns of insect floral visitation with consequences on the plant fitness. We hypothesise that nectar chemical variation through different floral sexual phases may affect the number of insect visits that each phase receives. The study was realized on a population of Echium vulgare L. growing in a natural area close to Bologna. Nectar was collected from functionally male and female flowers to investigate its chemical composition through the HPLC technique. A total of 200 min of behavioural observations on foraging insects was also carried out. Variation in nectar traits has been detected for the amino acid spectrum. The proportion of protein amino acids appeared to be significantly higher in male-phase flowers. This may explain the significantly higher number of visits on male flowers than expected observed for all bee taxa (except Hoplitis adunca females). Functionally male flowers presented higher concentrations of phenylalanine, whilst proline was highly represented in functionally female flowers. Since a recent study demonstrated that hymenopterans can oxidize proline at a high rate for ATP production, we can hypothesise that the quality of nectar offered by the two sexually distinct floral phases targets different insect behavioural traits and likely ensures an optimal pattern of visit among flower sexes, which are unequally distributed within and among individuals in the population.
Floral rewards are important elements in plant–pollinator interactions and can play an essential role in the diversification of species. The identification of these rewards has been neglected in species of Tigridieae (Iridaceae), one of the few angiosperm groups to offer lipids, considered a specialized reward. We identify and characterize the secretory structures of floral rewards in Cypella and related genera (Calydorea, Catila, Herbertia, Onira and Kelissa). Our results reveal that there are trichomatic elaiophores in the tepals of Cypella, Kelissa, Onira and Herbertia and staminal nectaries in the connectives of the anthers of Cypella and Onira. There is an unusual combination of floral rewards in Cypella and Onira, demonstrating a unique pattern in Iridaceae of the American continent.
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Floral volatiles and reward traits are major drivers for the behavior of mutualistic as well as antagonistic flower visitors, i.e., pollinators and florivores. These floral traits differ tremendously between species, but intraspecific differences and their consequences on organism interactions remain largely unknown. Floral volatile compounds, such as terpenoids, function as cues to advertise rewards to pollinators, but should at the same time also repel florivores. The reward composition, e.g., protein and lipid contents in pollen, differs between individuals of distinct plant families. Whether the nutritional value of rewards within the same plant species is linked to their chemotypes, which differ in their pattern of specialized metabolites, has yet not been investigated. In the present study, we compared Tanacetum vulgare plants of five terpenoid chemotypes with regard to flower production, floral headspace volatiles, pollen macronutrient and terpenoid content, and floral attractiveness to florivorous beetles. Our analyses revealed remarkable differences between the chemotypes in the amount and diameter of flower heads, duration of bloom period, and pollen nutritional quality. The floral headspace composition of pollen-producing mature flowers, but not of premature flowers, was correlated to that of pollen and leaves in the same plant individual. For two chemotypes, florivorous beetles discriminated between the scent of mature and premature flower heads and preferred the latter. In semi-field experiments, the abundance of florivorous beetles and flower tissue miners differed between T. vulgare chemotypes. Moreover, the scent environment affected the choice and beetles were more abundant in homogenous plots composed of one single chemotype than in plots with different neighboring chemotypes. In conclusion, flower production, floral metabolic composition and pollen quality varied to a remarkable extend within the species T. vulgare, and the attractiveness of floral scent differed also intra-individually with floral ontogeny. We found evidence for a trade-off between pollen lipid content and pollen amount on a per-plant-level. Our study highlights that chemotypes which are more susceptible to florivory are less attacked when they grow in the neighborhood of other chemotypes and thus gain a benefit from high overall chemodiversity.
Many plants produce broadly active toxins to which specialist herbivores—typically insects—have evolved counter-adaptations, sometimes spawning co-evolutionary arms races. Many non-social bee species are likewise taxonomic host specialists, but the specialists’ pollen hosts frequently attract diverse floral generalists as well, even to flowers of plants that are otherwise chemically defended. In this study of foothills death-camas, Toxicoscordion paniculatum (Nutt.) Rydberg (formerly Zigadenus), we show that its pollen and nectar both contain zygacine, the steroidal alkaloid responsible for this plant’s notorious mammalian toxicity. Hungry naïve adults of a generalist solitary bee, Osmia lignaria Say (Megachilidae), would briefly drink death-camas nectar or biologically relevant doses of zygacine in syrup, followed by prolonged bouts of irritable tongue grooming; many became paralyzed and some even died. Larvae fed dosed provision masses likewise often ceased feeding and sometimes died. Prolonged irritation and subsequent deterrence of foraging O. lignaria likely illustrates why it and 50+ other vernal bee species were absent from death-camas flowers in a five-state survey. The sole visiting bee, Andrena astragali, foraged exclusively at death-camas flowers for pollen and nectar. Thus, a toxic alkaloid found in death-camas pollen and nectar deters generalist bees from flowers of this pollinator-dependent monocot, restricting visitation to a single specialist bee that tolerates death-camas toxins and is its likely pollinator.
Pollen loads ere examined and pollen species identified bout 70 females of the unfortunately named Andrena astragali Viereck and Cockerell Specimen were collected over 60 years and were from four states (CA, ID. UT, WY) At all sites. in all bears, Andrena astragali is an oligolege of the putatively toxic death camas (Zigadenus. Liliaceae) species of locoweed (Astragalus Leguminosae) are visited occasionally, probably for nectar.
Alkaloids, represent a group of interesting and complex chemical compounds, produced by the secondary metabolism of living organisms in different biotopes. They are relatively common chemicals in all kingdoms of living organisms in all environments. Two hundred years of scientific research has still not fully explained the connections between alkaloids and life. Alkaloids-Chemistry, Biological Significance, Applications and Ecological Role provides knowledge on structural typology, biosynthesis and metabolism in relation to recent research work on alkaloids. Considering an organic chemistry approach to alkaloids using biological and ecological explanation. Within the book several questions that persist in this field of research are approached as are some unresearched areas. The book provides beneficial text for an academic and professional audience and serves as a source of knowledge for anyone who is interested in the fascinating subject of alkaloids. Each chapter features an abstract. Appendices are included, as are a listing of alkaloids, plants containing alkaloids and some basic protocols of alkaloid analysis. z.ast; Presents the ecological role of alkaloids in nature and ecosystems z.ast; Interdisciplinary and reader friendly approach z.ast; Up-to-date knowledge.
By acting as a selective source of mortality in insect populations, insecticides, both natural and man-made, have wrought extraordinary changes in the genetic composition and physiology of insects. Among these changes are several fundamentally different resistance mechanisms. One of the less well understood forms of resistance is target site insensitivity (TSI), defined as the failure of a toxicant to bind to the target due to alteration in the structure or accessibility of that target site (Brooks 1976). Studies of TSI have been severely hampered by the fact that, in order to understand TSI as a resistance mechanism, it is necessary first to know what the target site and mode of action are. This is decidedly not the case for the majority of plant allelochemicals; it is, however, true for a few synthetic organic insecticides, and the phenomenon of target site insensitivity was first discovered in connection with chemical control programs that ceased working.
Honey bees, Apis mellifera L., often thought to be extremely susceptible to insecticides in general, exhibit considerable variation in tolerance to pyrethroid insecticides. Although some pyrethroids, such as cyfluthrin and lambda-cyhalothrin, are highly toxic to honey bees, the toxicity of tau-fluvalinate is low enough to warrant its use to control parasitic mites inside honey bee colonies. Metabolic insecticide resistance in other insects is mediated by three major groups of detoxifying enzymes: the cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450s), the carboxylesterases (COEs), and the glutathione S -transferases (GSTs). To test the role of metabolic detoxification in mediating the relatively low toxicity of tau-fluvalinate compared with more toxic pyrethroid insecticides, we examined the effects of piperonyl butoxide (PBO), S , S , S -tributylphosphorotrithioate (DEF), and diethyl maleate (DEM) on the toxicity of these pyrethroids. The toxicity of the three pyrethroids to bees was greatly synergized by the P450 inhibitor PBO and synergized at low levels by the carboxylesterase inhibitor DEF. Little synergism was observed with DEM. These results suggest that metabolic detoxification, especially that mediated by P450s, contributes significantly to honey bee tolerance of pyrethroid insecticides. The potent synergism between tau-fluvalinate and PBO suggests that P450s are especially important in the detoxification of this pyrethroid and explains the ability of honey bees to tolerate its presence.
In agreement with the IUPAC corrected tentative rules for steroid nomenclature, the veratrum alkaloids are classified in the jervanine, veratranine, cevanine, and solanidanine groups. Veralkamine and veralinine are regarded as derivatives of the rearranged steroid hydrocarbon cholestane. However, there are also alkaloids possessing a normal cholestane skeleton (the 22,26-epiminocholestane). The alkaloid veramine could be considered a derivative of rearranged tomatanine. It seems, however, reasonable to distinguish Buxus alkaloids according to the number of nitrogen atoms incorporated. In accordance with the nomenclature in this chapter, the alkaloids veratrobasine, jervine, 11-deoxojervine (identical with cyclopamine), veratramine, verarine and the glycoalkaloids veratrosine, pseudo-jervine, and cycloposine belong to the bases of jervanine and veratranine type. In an earlier study, the empirical formula of veratrobasine isolated from Veratrum album L. was revised and the structure, including the stereochemistry, determined by means of X-ray diffraction analysis. The determination of the structure of veratrobasine definitely settled the discrepancies in the structure of the related bases, the jervanine and veratranine subgroup and particularly of jervine. Suginome and associates have also photolyzed, under the conditions of the Barton reaction, the nitrite of (22S,25S)-N-acetyl-11-hydroxy-veratra-4,13-dienine-3,23-dione prepared from jervine. The structure shown in the chapter (α-hydroxycyclic nitrone) was assigned to the resulting rearranged product of this reaction on the basis of the mass, IR, UV, and proton magnetic resonance (PMR) spectroscopy, chemical evidence, and in consideration of the mode of its formation. The chapter discusses the properties of jervine, cyclopamine, verarine, veratramine, and cycloposine. A description of the subgroups cevanine, 22,26-epiminocholestane, veralozinine, other alkaloids veralkamine, veralinine, veramine, veracintine, tienmulilmine, alkaloids Q and Y, and alkamine X is provided in the chapter. The chapter details the structures and chemical and physicochemical properties of Buxus alkaloids. Acetate [1-14C] was incorporated into alkaloids of the solanidanine, jervanine, veratranine, and cevanine groups. Nonradioactive 11-deoxojervine inhibited the incorporation of acetate into jervine.
Discusses the behavioral, genetic, and ecological determinants of oviposition behavior as they influence preference for plants and plant parts in both butterflies and moths, focusing on how oviposition behavior contributes to the evolution of preference and specificity for plant species, individual plants within populations, and plant parts. The review pays almost exclusive attention to phytophagous lepidopterans; very little is known in a quantitative way about oviposition behavior in nonphytophagous species, and even less about larviposition in a few known cases of ovovivipary. -from Authors
Larvae of most neotropical ithomiine butterflies feed on plants containing solanaceous alkaloids. Adults visit flowers or rotting parts of plants containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Previous studies by Brown (1984, 1985) showed that extracts made from wild caught adult ithomiines inhibit feeding by Nephila clavipes, a large orb-weaving spider, while extracts from larval food plants do not. I found in feeding experiments with one ithomiine species, Episcada salvinia, that most wild caught adults are rejected by N. clavipes, but laboratory reared larvae, pupae, and freshly emerged adults fed sucrose solution are not. Moreover, some adult male and female E. salvinia were chemically protected and unpalatable to N. clavipes when fed a sucrose solution containing heliotrine, a pyrrolizidine alkaloid. Freshly emerged adults exposed to flowers of plants reported to produce pyrrolizidine alkaloids may also gain unpalatability to N. clavipes.
The population structure of the mycophagous beetle P. substriatus is characterized by many small local populations interconnected by migration over a small spatial scale (10×75 m2). Each local P. substriatus population has a relatively short expected persistence time, but persistence of the species occurs due to a balance between frequent local extinctions and recolonizations. This non-equilibrium population structure can have profound effects on how the genetic variation is structured between and within populations. Theoretical models have stated that the genetic differentiation among local populations will be enhanced relative to an island model at equilibrium if the number of colonizers is less than approximately twice the number of migrants among local populations. To study these effects, a set of 50 local P. substriatus populations were surveyed over a four year period to record any naturally occurring extinctions and recolonizations. The per population colonization and extinction rate were 0.237 and 0275, respectively. Mark-recapture techniques were used to estimate a number of demographic parameters: local population size (N=11.1), migration rate (=0.366), number of colonizers (k=4.0) and the probability of common origin of colonizers (φ=0.5). The theoretically predicted level of differentiation among local populations (measured as Wright’s FST) was 0.070. Genetic data obtained from an electrophoretic survey of 7 polymorphic loci gave an estimated degree of differentiation of 0.077. There was thus a good agreement between the empirical results and the theoretical predictions. Young populations (young=0.090) had significantly higher levels of differentiation than old, more established populations (old=0.059). The extinction-recolonization dynamics resulted in an overall increased in the genetic differentiation among local populations by c. 40%. The overall effective population size was also reduced by c. 35%. The results give clear evidence to how non-equilibrium processes shape the genetic structure of populations.