Essay on Nicotiana Attenuata and Pollination Defense

Essay on Nicotiana Attenuata and Pollination Defense

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Nicotiana attenuata and Pollination Defense

Pollination, or the spreading of pollen by external means is a vital part of the Nicotiana attenuata plant's reproductive system. Pollination allows male gametes to reach another plants stigma thus allowing fertilization, however when pollination is carried out by animals feeding on the plant's nectar, harmful herbivory may also result. This paper will focus on the Nicotiana attenuata plant and its' chemical defenses against pollinating herbivores. More specifically, recent research done on how Nicotiana attenuata can change pollinator in response to herbivory.


What is Nicotiana attenuata?

Nicotiana attenuata is a nicotine plant found in the southwestern part of the United States. These plants are most abundant in recently disturbed or burned areas because it germinates after a fire has struck (Preston, "Positive and Negative Signals" 481). The flowers of this plant are frequently visited by Selasphorus rufus hummingbirds, Manduca sexta hawkmoths, and various species of bee (Baldwin, "Patterns and Consequences of Benzyl Acetone" 2327). During the night the flowers are open and nectar is produced and by midday the flowers of these plants are closed, suggesting nocturnal pollination (Aigner, 1). Each flower has five anthers and the seeding occurs after pollination. Out of the three types mentioned, Manduca sexta is its primary pollinator (Kessler, "Making Sense of Nectar Scents" 840) and the shape and color of the flower is typical of moth pollinated plants (Sime, 1). The nectar produced by these plants is a rich sugar substance that attracts pollinators to itself and is the most desired by these species of pollinators (Alder, 1519). Nicotiana attenuata's nect...

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