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Vol. 92, No. 4
, 2014; Pages: 253-266

The microbial ecology of flowers: an emerging frontier in phyllosphere research

Kristin Aleklett, Miranda Hart, Ashley Shade

Department of Biology, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, The University of British Columbia – Okanagan, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7, Canada.


Though we are learning more about the diversity, dynamics, and importance of phyllosphere microbiota, we have only modest knowledge about the microorganisms that specifically inhabit flowers. Due to their ephemerality and exquisite anatomy, flowers provide unique habitats to microorganisms, including a range of distinct microscale niches. Here, we review the recent literature concerning community composition and diversity in the flower microbiota, the spatial and temporal community dynamics, and the interactions between flower microbes, their plant hosts, and pollinators. We conclude with future directions for improving our understanding of this emerging frontier in phyllosphere microbial ecology.

Keywords: anthosphere; plant microbiome; nectar; pollen; dispersal; succession.

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