Some bee-pollinated plants provide nutritionally incomplete pollen amino acid resources to their pollinators

PLoS One. 2022 Aug 2;17(8):e0269992. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269992. eCollection 2022.

ABSTRACT

For pollinators such as bees, nectar mainly provides carbohydrates and pollen provides proteins, amino acids, and lipids to cover their nutritional needs. Here, to examine differences in pollinator resources, we compared the amino acid profiles and total amino acid contents of pollen from 32 common entomophilous plants in seven families. Our results showed that the amino acid profiles and contents in pollen samples differed according to the plant family and the chromatography method used, i.e., high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) versus ion exchange chromatography (IEX). Pollen from Boraginaceae species had the highest total amino acid contents (361.2-504 μg/mg) whereas pollen from the Malvaceae family had the lowest total amino acid contents (136-243.1 μg/mg). Calculating an amino acid score (AAS) that reflects pollen nutritional quality showed that slightly less than half of the species (19 out of 32) had the maximum nutritional score (AAS = 1) and offered high nutritional quality pollen amino acids for bee pollinators. Though they had high total amino acid contents, the amino acid composition of the studied Boraginaceae species and several members of the Fabaceae was not optimal, as their pollen was deficient in some essential amino acids, resulting in suboptimal amino acid scores (AAS < 0.7). Except for cysteine, the measured amino acid contents were higher using IEX chromatography than using HPLC. IEX chromatography is more robust and is to be preferred over HPLC in future amino acid analyses. Moreover, our observations show that some bee-pollinated species fail to provide complete amino acid resources for their pollinators. Although the implications for pollinator behavior remain to be studied, these deficiencies may force pollinators to forage from different species to obtain all nutritionial requirements.

PMID:35917360 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0269992

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