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Evolution of a novel and adaptive floral scent in wild tobacco

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Guo,  Han
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Lackus,  Nathalie
Department of Biochemistry, Prof. J. Gershenzon, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS on Ecological Interactions, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Köllner,  Tobias G.
Department of Biochemistry, Prof. J. Gershenzon, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Li,  Ran
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Bing,  Julia
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS on Ecological Interactions, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Baldwin,  Ian Thomas
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Guo, H., Lackus, N., Köllner, T. G., Li, R., Bing, J., Wang, Y., et al. (2020). Evolution of a novel and adaptive floral scent in wild tobacco. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 37(4), 1090-1099. doi:10.1093/molbev/msz292.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-855B-0
Abstract
Many plants emit diverse floral scents that mediate plant-environment interactions and attain reproductive success. However, how plants evolve novel adaptive floral volatiles remains unclear. Here, we show that in the wild tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata, a dominant species-specific floral volatile (benzyl acetone, BA) that attracts pollinators and deters florivore is synthesized by phenylalanine ammonia-lyase 4 (NaPAL4), isoflavone reductase 3 (NaIFR3), and chalcone synthase 3 (NaCHAL3). Transient expression of NaFIR3 alone in N. attenuata leaves is sufficient and necessary for ectopic foliar BA emissions, and the BA emission level is increased by co-expressing NaIFR3 with NaPAL4 and NaCHAL3. Independent changes in transcription in all three genes contributed to intraspecific variations of floral BA emission. However, among species, the gain-of-expression in NaIFR3 resulted in the biosynthesis of BA that was only found in N. attenuata. This study suggests that novel metabolic pathways associated with adaptation can arise via re-configurations of gene expression.