Probing the Microbial World of Flowers: Impacts on Plants and Animals
Tuesday, August 12, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
308, Sacramento Convention Center
Scott H. McArt, Cornell University
Lynn S. Adler, University of Massachusetts
Matthew Boyer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Flowers are major hubs of plant-animal interactions across the terrestrial world. Flowers also provide a microclimate highly conducive to microbes, which can influence plant and animal health and fitness. In plants, floral microbes range from mutualistic to pathogenic; such microbes are common in the wild and can be economically devastating in agricultural systems. For pollinators, flower-transmitted microbes also range from beneficial to pathogenic, yet we are just beginning to understand the importance of microbe transmission on pollinator health. Given recent concerns about pollinator declines caused in part by pathogens, knowledge of microbial transmission dynamics is crucial to understanding this pressing topic. This organized oral session will explore numerous ways in which flower-associated microbes are affected by floral traits and microbial community interactions, transmitted by and among pollinators, ultimately impacting plant and animal fitness. The session will be split evenly between plant-centric and animal-centric talks. A major goal of this session is to show that questions are often complementary between plant-centric and animal-centric researchers, and that approaches used in one discipline can be applied to the other discipline. Plant-centric talks will address processes of microbial community assembly in flowers, antimicrobial floral traits, microbial manipulation of floral traits, and microbe impacts on plant and animal fitness. Animal-centric talks will address the prevalence of flower-transmitted bacteria, viruses, and parasites, floral traits influencing transmission of beneficial and pathogenic microbes, and the influence of gut microbiota on modifying pollinator health upon exposure to flower-transmitted microbes.