Send to

Choose Destination
Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2019 Jul;21(4):732-737. doi: 10.1111/plb.12957. Epub 2019 Feb 4.

Nectar yeasts enhance the interaction between Clematis akebioides and its bumblebee pollinator.

Author information

State Key Laboratory of Hybrid Rice, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.
Institute of Evolution and Ecology, School of Life Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China.


It has been hypothesised that intense metabolism of nectar-inhabiting yeasts (NIY) may change nectar chemistry, including volatile profile, which may affect pollinator foraging behaviours and consequently plant fitness. However, empirical evidence for the plant-microbe-pollinator interactions remains little known. To test this hypothesis, we use a bumblebee-pollinated vine Clematis akebioides endemic to southwest China as an experimental model plant. To quantify the incidence and density of Metschnikowia reukaufii, a cosmopolitan NIY in floral nectar, a combination of yeast cultivation and microscopic cell-counting method was used. To examine the effects of NIY on plant-pollinator interactions, we used real flowers filled with artificial nectar with or without yeast cells. Then the volatile metabolites produced in the yeast-inoculated nectar were analysed with coupled gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC-MS). On average 79.3% of the C. akebioides flowers harboured M. reukaufii, and cell density of NIY was high to 7.4 × 104 cells mm-3 . In the field population, the presence of NIY in flowers of C. akebioides increased bumblebee (Bombus friseanus) pollinator visitation rate and consequently seed set per flower. A variety of fatty acid derivatives produced by M. reukaufii may be responsible for the above beneficial interactions. The volatiles produced by the metabolism of M. reukaufii may serve as an honest signal to attract bumblebee pollinators and indirectly promote the female reproductive fitness of C. akebioides, forming a potentially tripartite plant-microbe-pollinator mutualism.


Clematis akebioides ; Metschnikowia reukaufii ; Bumblebee; floral volatile; nectar yeasts; plant-pollinator interactions


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center