Skip to main content

Analyzing Variability in Nectar Amino Acids: Composition Is Less Variable Than Concentration

Abstract

Thirty species of flowering plants were analyzed for floral nectar amino acid composition. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used in conjunction with AccQtag derivatization to produce accurate and precise data. For any one species, the total concentration of amino acids varies greatly (average coefficient of variation 0.65), but composition is much less variable (average correlation among samples from a single species 0.85). Absolute concentration of individual amino acids is much more variable than the relative abundance (coefficients of variation 0.98 and 0.77, respectively; N = 544, t = 16.98, P < 0.001). When amino acids that occur in only small relative abundance (<1%) are removed from the analysis, the difference is even more marked (0.78 and 0.51, respectively; N = 344, t = 15.13, P < 0.001). The results highlight the need for large sample sizes when making observations concerning the absolute amounts of amino acids in nectar and for sensitive analyses of the composition, as even small changes may be biologically significant.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

REFERENCES

  1. BAKER, H. G. and BAKER, I. 1973. Amino acids in nectar and their evolutionary significance. Nature 241:543–545.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. BAKER, H. G. and BAKER, I. 1975. Studies of nectar constitution and pollinator-plant coevolution, pp. 100–140, In L. E. Gilbert and P. H. Raven (eds.). Co-evolution of Animal and Plants. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

    Google Scholar 

  3. BAKER, H. G. and BAKER, I. 1977. Intraspecific constancy of floral nectar amino acid complements. Bot. Gaz. 138:183–191.

    Google Scholar 

  4. BAKER, H. G., OPLER, P. A., and BAKER, I. 1978. A comparison of the amino acid complements of floral and extrafloral nectars. Bot. Gaz. 139:322–332.

    Google Scholar 

  5. BAKER, I. and BAKER, H. G. 1976. Analyses of amino acids in flower nectars of hybrids and their parents, with phylogenetic implications. New Phytol. 76:87–98.

    Google Scholar 

  6. BAKER, I. and BAKER, H. G. 1979. Chemical constituents of the nectars of two Erythrina species and their hybrid. Ann. Mio. Bot. Gard. 66:446–450.

    Google Scholar 

  7. BERNARDELLO, L. M., GALETTO, L., and JULIANI, H. R. 1991. Floral nectar, nectary structure and pollinators in some Argentinean Bromeliaceae. Ann. Bot. 67:401–412.

    Google Scholar 

  8. COHEN, S. A. and MICHEAUD, D. P. 1993. Synthesis of a fluorescent derivitization reagent, 6-aminoquionyl-N-hydroxysuccinimidyl carbamate and its application for the analysis of hydrolysate amino acids via high performance liquid chromatography. Anal. Biochem. 211:279–287.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. ERHARDT, A. and BAKER, I. 1990. Pollen amino acids-an additional diet for a nectar feeding butterfly. Plant Syst. Evol. 169:111–121.

    Google Scholar 

  10. FINDLAY, N. and MERCER, F. V. 1971. Nectar production in Abutilon. III. Sugar secretion. Aust. J. Biol. Sci. 24:665–675.

    Google Scholar 

  11. FORCONE, A., GALETTO, L., and BERNARDELLO, L. 1997. Floral nectar chemical composition of some species from Patagonia. Biochemi. Syst. Ecol. 25:395–402.

    Google Scholar 

  12. GARDENER, M. C. and GILLMAN, M. P. 2001. The effects of soil fertilizer on amino acids in the floral nectar of corncockle, Agrostemma githago L. (Caryophyllaceae). Oikos 92:101–106.

    Google Scholar 

  13. GOTTSBERGER, G., SCHRAUWEN, J., and LINSKENS, H. F. 1984. Amino acids and sugars in nectar, and their putative evolutionary significance. Plant Syst. Evol. 145:55–77.

    Google Scholar 

  14. GOTTSBERGER, G., ARNOLD, T., and LINSKENS, H. F. 1989. Intraspecific variation in the amino acid content of floral nectar. Bot. Acta 102:141–144.

    Google Scholar 

  15. GOTTSBERGER, G., ARNOLD, T., and LINSKENS, H. F. 1990. Variation in floral nectar amino acids with aging of flowers, pollen contamination, and flower damage. Isr. J. Bot. 39:167–176.

    Google Scholar 

  16. LANZA, J., SMITH, G. C., SACK, S., and CASH, A. 1995. Variation in nectar volume and composition of Impatiens capensis at the individual, plant and population levels. Oecologia 102:113–119.

    Google Scholar 

  17. LUTTGE, U. 1961. Uber die zusammensetzung des nektars und den mechanismus seiner sekretion. I. Planta 56:189–212.

    Google Scholar 

  18. PETANIDOU, T., VANLAERE, A. J., and SMETS, E. 1996. Change in floral nectar components from fresh to senescent flowers of Capparis spinosa (Capparidaceae), a nocturnally flowering Mediterranean shrub. Plant Syst. Evol. 199:79–92.

    Google Scholar 

  19. RUSTERHOLZ, H. P. and ERHARDT, A. 1998. Effects of elevated CO2 on flowering phenology and nectar production of nectar plants important for butterflies of calcareous grasslands. Oecologia 113:341–349.

    Google Scholar 

  20. ZIEGLER, H. 1956. Untersuchungen uber die Leitung und Sekretion der Assimilate. Planta 47:447–500.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gardener, M.C., Gillman, M.P. Analyzing Variability in Nectar Amino Acids: Composition Is Less Variable Than Concentration. J Chem Ecol 27, 2545–2558 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013687701120

Download citation

  • Nectar
  • amino acid
  • correlation
  • HPLC
  • flowering plant
  • composition
  • variation