Geographic partitioning or environmental selection: What governs the global distribution of bacterial communities inhabiting floral nectar?

Yehonatan Sharaby, Sarah Rodríguez-Martínez, Maya Lalzar, Malka Halpern, Ido Izhaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Floral nectar harbors microbial communities which have significant impacts on its chemistry, volatiles, nutritional contents, and attractiveness for pollinators. Yet, fundamental knowledge regarding the structure and composition of nectar-associated microbiomes remains largely unknown. Especially elusive are the environmental factors and spatial effects that shape nectar-inhabiting microbial communities. The aim of this study was to explore and analyze the role of geographical and environmental factors affecting the composition and global distribution of floral nectar microbiota. We explored and compared the structure of bacterial communities inhabiting the floral nectar of the widely spread and invasive tobacco tree (Nicotiana glauca) in six continents: South and North America, Australia, Europe, Africa, and Asia, using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Environmental abiotic data for each sampled plant was obtained from the Worldclim database and applied for inferring the effects of environmental conditions on bacterial community structure and diversity. Most abundant in the nectar were the Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria phyla, with Acinetobacter and Rosenbergiella (Proteobacteria) being the dominant bacterial genera that contributed most to the dissimilarities between sites. Acinetobacter and Rosenbergiella abundances were negatively correlated and significantly higher in the Mediterranean regions (Greece, Israel, and the Canary Islands) compared to Argentina and Australia. Temperature, site-elevation, rainfall, and density of vegetation were found to have significant effects on the structure and diversity of these bacterial communities in the nectar. Vegetation density was positively correlated with microbial diversity, while increased temperatures and elevation reduced the diversity and evenness of bacterial communities. Mantel's test showed that the similarity between the bacterial communities' composition significantly decreased as distances between them increased. We conclude that both geographical distance and local environmental abiotic conditions affect and shape the composition and diversity of nectar inhabiting bacterial communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142305
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Environmental microbiota
  • Floral nectar
  • Nicotiana glauca

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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