Gain and loss of floral scent with shifts in pollination strategies
Two papers in Current Biology examine the genetics behind plant-pollinator interactions , focusing on genes controlling floral scent. Amrad et al. 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.023 explore differences between bee, hawkmoth and hummingbird pollinated species of Petunia. They identify changes in expression in several genes including those encoding BSMT (benzoic acid/salicylic acid carboxyl methyltransferase) and BPBT (benzoyl-CoA:benzylalcohol/2-phenylethanol benzoyltransferase) and CNL1 (cinnamate-CoA ligase) as involved in differential scent production. In an accompanying paper, Sas et al. 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.026 compare the scented outbreeding Capsella grandiflora to the unscented selfing Capsella rubella, and identify CNL1 as a gene responsible for this transition. Together, these studies “identify cinnamate:CoA ligase as an evolutionary hotspot for mutations causing the loss of benzenoid scent compounds.” Curr. Biol.
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