Although floral nectar is a rich source of nutrients, it is rarely infected by microorganisms. Defense molecules such as proteins have been identified in this fluid, but defense peptides have been largely overlooked. Thus, the aim of this study was to perform an extensive peptidomic analysis of the ornamental tobacco floral nectar to seek peptides involved in nectar defense. Using LC-MS/MS, 793 peptides were sequenced and characterized. After extensive bioinformatics analysis, six peptides were selected for further characterization, synthesis, and evaluation of their antimicrobial properties against phytopathogenic fungi and bacteria. All six peptides had antimicrobial activity to some extent. However, the activity varied by peptide concentration and microorganism tested. An analysis of the action mechanism revealed damage in the cell membrane induced by peptides. The results show that floral nectar is rich in peptides and that, together with proteins and hydrogen peroxide, they contribute to plant defense against microorganisms during pollination.
Elsevier, Plant Science, Volume 324, November 2022, 111427