Nectar: Properties, floral aspects, and speculations on origin

  • De La Barrera E
  • Nobel P
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Although nectar is crucial for most pollinators, its evolutionary origin has received scant attention. Nectar is derived from the phloem solution. Both have high sugar concentrations (usually 10-30% solutes by fresh mass); the main solute in the phloem is sucrose, whereas nectar can also contain considerable amounts of fructose and glucose. The phloem, not the xylem, is the supplier of water to flowers and certain other organs. Therefore, a 'leaky phloem' hypothesis for the origin of nectar is presented based on the elevated hydrostatic pressure that can occur within the phloem and the structural weakness of developing phloem tissues. A 'sugar excretion' hypothesis is also presented that considers the solute accumulation resulting from the relatively high transpiration rates of flowers.

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