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Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2012;77:117-33. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2013.77.014712. Epub 2013 Mar 6.

Color and scent: how single genes influence pollinator attraction.

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Institute of Plant Sciences, Altenbergrain 21, CH-3013 Bern, Switzerland.


A major function of angiosperm flowers is the recruitment of animal pollinators that serve to transfer pollen among conspecific plants. Distinct sets of floral characteristics, called pollination syndromes, are correlated with visitation by specific groups of pollinators. Switches among pollination syndromes have occurred in many plant families. Such switches must have involved coordinated changes in multiple traits and multiple genes. Two well-studied floral traits affecting pollinator attraction are petal color and scent production. We review current knowledge about the biosynthetic pathways for floral color and scent production and their interaction at the genetic and biochemical levels. A key question in the field concerns the genes that underlie natural variation in color and scent and how such genes affect pollinator preference, reproductive isolation, and ultimately speciation.

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