Critical Pollination Chemistry: Specific Sesquiterpene Floral Volatiles in Carrot Inhibit Honey Bee Feeding

Stephen R. Quarrell, Alyssa M. Weinstein, Lea Hannah, Nicole Bonavia, Oscar Del Borrello, Gavin R. Flematti, Björn Bohman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many plants rely on insect pollination, yet numerous agricultural plant-breeding programs focus on traits that appeal to growers and consumers instead of pollinators, leading to declining pollinator attraction and crop yields. Using hybrid carrot seed production as a model, we investigated low-yielding carrot varieties by analyzing sugars and minerals in nectar and floral volatile composition. While the analysis of nectar sugars and minerals did not reveal any key differences between the carrot varieties, differences between the 112 detected volatiles in 23 samples were observed. Numerous differentiating sesquiterpenes were identified in floral solvent extracts, and subsequent behavioral assays showed that β-ocimene from higher-yielding carrot varieties stimulated nectar feeding (attractant), while α- and β-selinene from lower-yielding lines decreased feeding (deterrents). Sesquiterpenes have previously been implicated in plant defense, suggesting a trade-off between pollination and protection. Our results highlight the importance of volatiles as regulators of pollinator attraction in agricultural settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16079-16089
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Volume71
Issue number43
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

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