Keynote speakers

Prof. Nepi Massimo

Department of Life Sciences, University of Siena


Title of Keynote: Nectar neurobiology: facts and hypotheses



In recent years, the "partner manipulation hypothesis" concerning nectar chemistry has been proposed. According to this theory, nectar secondary compounds may have evolved in nectar to stabilize relationships between flowers and pollinators and to maximize pollination efficiency. In this regard, nectar secondary compounds that may directly influence insect neurobiology and thus insect behaviour are of particular interest. The presence of important neurotransmitters or compounds that can interact with receptor proteins found on neurons have recently been highlighted in nectar, paving the way for nectar neurobiology. This contribution is an overview of what we know about these compounds and their effect on insect neurobiology and behaviour and a chance to discuss possible evolutionary hypotheses.

Prof. Rebecca E. Irwin

North Carolina State University


Title of Keynote: The role of floral traits in pollination and pollinator disease transmission



Floral traits play key roles in mediating pollinator foraging behavior and pollination success. Yet, these same flower traits that attract pollinators can also promote the transmission of pathogenic pollinator-associated microbes. This walk will focus on nectar and pollen traits and floral morphology more generally and how they are involved in bumble bee pollinator foraging behavior and pollination processes, as well as the transmission of bumble bee pollinator diseases. Results suggest that various nectar and pollen components and some aspects of floral morphology can affect one or more steps in the disease transmission process. This information is valuable when considering which plant species to choose in pollinator habitat restoration.