Removal of floral microbiota reduces floral terpene emissions

Josep Peñuelas, Gerard Farré-Armengol, Joan Llusia, Albert Gargallo-Garriga, Laura Rico, Jordi Sardans, Jaume Terradas, Iolanda Filella

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36 Citations (Scopus)


The emission of floral terpenes plays a key role in pollination in many plant species. We hypothesized that the floral phyllospheric microbiota could significantly influence these floral terpene emissions because microorganisms also produce and emit terpenes. We tested this hypothesis by analyzing the effect of removing the microbiota from flowers. We fumigated Sambucus nigra L. plants, including their flowers, with a combination of three broad-spectrum antibiotics and measured the floral emissions and tissular concentrations in both antibiotic-fumigated and non-fumigated plants. Floral terpene emissions decreased by ca. two thirds after fumigation. The concentration of terpenes in floral tissues did not decrease, and floral respiration rates did not change, indicating an absence of damage to the floral tissues. The suppression of the phyllospheric microbial communities also changed the composition and proportion of terpenes in the volatile blend. One week after fumigation, the flowers were not emitting β-ocimene, linalool, epoxylinalool, and linalool oxide. These results show a key role of the floral phyllospheric microbiota in the quantity and quality of floral terpene emissions and therefore a possible key role in pollination.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6727
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2014


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