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Abstract Detail


Goodrich, Katherine [1], Senski, Rebecca [2], Ellis, Inesha [2].

Floral mimicry and fruit scents: Flowers of Asimina triloba and potential models.

Pollination strategies involving floral mimicry of non-floral resources are scattered across many angiosperm families. Floral mimicry of carrion and insect pheromones are classic examples of this type of pollination strategy, with flowers mimicking color, morphology, and elaborate scent chemistry to yield convincing mimics. Floral mimicry of ripe or fermenting fruit is less documented in the literature, yet it may represent a common form of floral mimicry in some plant groups. We are interested in the sapromyophilous pollination system of Asimina triloba. The small, dark-maroon flowers bloom in early spring and emit a heavy, yeasty floral odor primarily composed of ethanol, ethyl acetate, 3-methyl-1-butanol, acetoin, and 2,3-butanediol. The floral odor is easily perceived by independent human observers to be yeasty and fermented, and flowers at our field site are observed to attract several species of Diptera, including species of Drosophila. However, it is unclear whether the pollination system represents floral mimicry of an ecologically relevant model or more generalized food deception. To begin to address this question, we sampled odors from any potential models in the surrounding environment and from commercial fruits at several stages of fermentation. We compare these odor blends to the floral scent chemistry of Asimina triloba using non-metric multidimensional scaling to visualize similarities between fruit/floral/fermentation chemistry. We compare not only presence/absence of volatile compounds, but also relative percentage scent composition of volatiles within samples. Results indicate that although certain fermentation volatiles are found in most decomposing fruit samples, the ratio of these volatiles varies widely (between fruit species and over time), as does the fruit-derived volatile chemistry. The ratio of fermentation volatiles and their context in association with species-specific fruit volatiles may yield important information for insects seeking to feed or oviposit on fermenting fruits. Furthermore, in flowers emitting fermentation volatiles and attracting flies as pollinators, the quantity and quality of volatiles within these unusual floral scents may indicate a more specialized mimicry pollination system if floral signals attract fruit-seeking pollinators in search of fruit from a particular species or stage of decay.

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1 - Widener University, Department Of Biology, 1 University Place., Chester, PA, 19013, United States
2 - Widener University, Department of Biology, 1 University Place, Chester, PA, 19013, USA

floral mimicry
fly pollination
fermentation volatiles
fermenting fruit
floral scent.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 14, Ecology Section - Reproductive Biology
Location: 106/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Monday, July 23rd, 2018
Time: 3:00 PM
Number: 14007
Abstract ID:739
Candidate for Awards:None

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