Open Access Research article

Natural variation in floral nectar proteins of two Nicotiana attenuata accessions

Pil Joon Seo3, Natalie Wielsch2, Danny Kessler1, Ales Svatos2, Chung-Mo Park4, Ian T Baldwin1 and Sang-Gyu Kim1*

  • * Corresponding author: Sang-Gyu Kim

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, Jena, D-07745, Germany

2 Mass Spectrometry/Proteomics Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, Jena, D-07745, Germany

3 Department of Chemistry, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, 561-756, Korea

4 Molecular Signaling Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, Korea

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BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:101  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-101

Published: 13 July 2013



Floral nectar (FN) contains not only energy-rich compounds to attract pollinators, but also defense chemicals and several proteins. However, proteomic analysis of FN has been hampered by the lack of publically available sequence information from nectar-producing plants. Here we used next-generation sequencing and advanced proteomics to profile FN proteins in the opportunistic outcrossing wild tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata.


We constructed a transcriptome database of N. attenuata and characterized its nectar proteome using LC-MS/MS. The FN proteins of N. attenuata included nectarins, sugar-cleaving enzymes (glucosidase, galactosidase, and xylosidase), RNases, pathogen-related proteins, and lipid transfer proteins. Natural variation in FN proteins of eleven N. attenuata accessions revealed a negative relationship between the accumulation of two abundant proteins, nectarin1b and nectarin5. In addition, microarray analysis of nectary tissues revealed that protein accumulation in FN is not simply correlated with the accumulation of transcripts encoding FN proteins and identified a group of genes that were specifically expressed in the nectary.


Natural variation of identified FN proteins in the ecological model plant N. attenuata suggests that nectar chemistry may have a complex function in plant-pollinator-microbe interactions.

LC-MS/MS; Nectar protein; Nectarin; Nicotiana attenuata