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Trends Plant Sci. 2004 Jul;9(7):320-4.

Is the nectar redox cycle a floral defense against microbial attack?

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


Many angiosperms use a remarkable reproductive strategy that relies on attracting animals (insect, avian or mammalian pollinators) to transfer pollen between plants. Relying on other organisms for sexual reproduction seems evolutionarily untenable, but the great diversity of angiosperms illustrates how highly successful this strategy is. To attract pollinators, plants offer a variety of rewards. Perhaps the primary floral reward is floral nectar. Plant nectar has long been considered a simple sugar solution but recent work has demonstrated that nectar is a complex biological fluid containing significant and important biochemistry with the potential function of inhibiting microbial growth. These results lead the way to novel insights into the mechanisms of floral defense and the co-evolution of angiosperms and their pollinators.

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