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Open AccessArticle

Asteraceae Paradox: Chemical and Mechanical Protection of Taraxacum Pollen

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Laboratory of Zoology, Research Institute for Biosciences, University of Mons-UMONS, Place du Parc 23, 7000 Mons, Belgium
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Laboratory of Histology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Mons-UMONS, Place du Parc 23, 7000 Mons, Belgium
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Unit of Therapeutic Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Mons-UMONS, Place du Parc 23, 7000 Mons, Belgium
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Organic Synthesis and Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Research Institute for Biosciences, University of Mons-UMONS, Place du Parc 23, 7000 Mons, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(5), 304; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11050304
Received: 24 April 2020 / Revised: 8 May 2020 / Accepted: 12 May 2020 / Published: 14 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Excessive pollen harvesting by bees can compromise the reproductive success of plants. Plants have therefore evolved different morphological structures and floral cues to narrow the spectrum of pollen feeding visitors. Among “filtering” mechanisms, the chemical and mechanical protection of pollen might shape bee-flower interactions and restrict pollen exploitation to a specific suite of visitors such as observed in Asteraceae. Asteraceae pollen is indeed only occasionally exploited by generalist bee species but plentifully foraged by specialist ones (i.e., Asteraceae paradox). During our bioassays, we observed that micro-colonies of generalist bumblebee (Bombus terrestris L.) feeding on Taraxacum pollen (Asteraceae) reduced their pollen collection and offspring production. Bees also experienced physiological effects of possible defenses in the form of digestive damage. Overall, our results suggest the existence of an effective chemical defense in Asteraceae pollen, while the hypothesis of a mechanical defense appeared more unlikely. Pre- and post-ingestive effects of such chemical defenses (i.e., nutrient deficit or presence of toxic compounds), as well as their role in the shaping of bee-flower interactions, are discussed. Our results strongly suggest that pollen chemical traits may act as drivers of plant selection by bees and partly explain why Asteraceae pollen is rare in generalist bee diets. View Full-Text
Keywords: Asteraceae; pollen defenses; generalist floral visitors; Bombus terrestris; chemical protection; mechanical protection Asteraceae; pollen defenses; generalist floral visitors; Bombus terrestris; chemical protection; mechanical protection
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Vanderplanck, M.; Gilles, H.; Nonclercq, D.; Duez, P.; Gerbaux, P. Asteraceae Paradox: Chemical and Mechanical Protection of Taraxacum Pollen. Insects 2020, 11, 304.

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