LC-MS/MS based comparative proteomics of floral nectars reveal different mechanisms involved in floral defense of Nicotiana spp., Petunia hybrida and Datura stramonium

J Proteomics. 2020 Feb 20;213:103618. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2019.103618. Epub 2019 Dec 14.


Tobacco floral nectar (FN) is a biological fluid produced by nectaries composed of sugars, amino acids and proteins called nectarins, involved in the floral defense. FN provides an ideal source of nutrients for microorganisms. Understanding the role of nectar proteins is essential to predict impacts in microbial growth, composition and plants-pollinators interactions. Using LC-MS/MS-based comparative proteomic analysis we identified 22 proteins from P. hybrida, 35 proteins from D. stramonium, and 144 proteins from 23 species of Nicotiana. The data are available at ProteomeXchance (PXD014760). GO analysis and secretory signal prediction demonstrated that defense/stress was the largest group of proteins in the genus Nicotiana. The Nicotiana spp. proteome consisted of 105 exclusive proteins such as lipid transfer proteins (LTPs), Nectar Redox Cycle proteins, proteases inhibitors, and PR-proteins. Analysis by taxonomic sections demonstrated that LTPs were most abundant in Undulatae and Noctiflora, while nectarins were more abundant in Rusticae, Suaveolens, Polydicliae, and Alata sections. Peroxidases (Pox) and chitinases (Chit) were exclusive to P. hybrida, while D. stramonium had only seven unique proteins. Biochemical analysis confirmed these differences. These findings support the hypothesis that, although conserved, there is differential abundance of proteins related to defense/stress which may impact the mechanisms of floral defense. SIGNIFICANCE: This study represents a comparative proteomic analysis of floral nectars of the Nicotiana spp. with two correlated Solanaceous species. Significant differences were identified between the proteome of taxonomic sections providing relevant insights into the group of proteins related to defense/stress associated with Nectar Redox Cycle, antimicrobial proteins and signaling pathways. The activity of FNs proteins is suggested impact the microbial growth. The knowledge about these proteomes provides significant insights into the diversity of proteins secreted in the nectars and the array of mechanisms used by Nicotiana spp. in its floral defense.

Keywords: Floral defense; LC-MS/MS; Nectar; Nectar redox cycle; Nicotiana.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.