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Keywords:

  • Anatomy;
  • fragrance;
  • Leguminosae;
  • osmophores;
  • pollination;
  • secretory structure;
  • volatiles

Abstract

Scent glands, or osmophores, are predominantly floral secretory structures that secrete volatile substances during anthesis, and therefore act in interactions with pollinators. The Leguminosae family, despite being the third largest angiosperm family, with a wide geographical distribution and diversity of habits, morphology and pollinators, has been ignored with respect to these glands. Thus, we localised and characterised the sites of fragrance production and release in flowers of legumes, in which scent plays an important role in pollination, and also tested whether there are relationships between the structure of the scent gland and the pollinator habit: diurnal or nocturnal. Flowers in pre-anthesis and anthesis of 12 legume species were collected and analysed using immersion in neutral red, olfactory tests and anatomical studies (light and scanning electron microscopy). The main production site of floral scent is the perianth, especially the petals. The scent glands are distributed in a restricted way in Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Anadenanthera peregrina, Inga edulis and Parkia pendula, constituting mesophilic osmophores, and in a diffuse way in Bauhinia rufa, Hymenaea courbaril, Erythrostemon gilliesii, Poincianella pluviosa, Pterodon pubescens, Platycyamus regnellii, Mucuna urens and Tipuana tipu. The glands are comprised of cells of the epidermis and mesophyll that secrete mainly terpenes, nitrogen compounds and phenols. Relationships between the presence of osmophores and type of anthesis (diurnal and nocturnal) and the pollinator were not found. Our data on scent glands in Leguminosae are original and detail the type of diffuse release, which has been very poorly studied.