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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Sciences

Department of Plant Systematics: Angiosperm Working Group - Prof. Dr. Sigrid Liede-Schumann

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Heiduk, A; Brake, I; Tolasch, T; Frank, J; Jürgens, A; Meve, U; Dötterl, S: Scent chemistry and pollinator attraction in the deceptive trap flowers of Ceropegia dolichophylla, South African Journal of Botany, 76, 762-769 (2010)
Ceropegia species (Apocynaceae, Asclepiadoideae) have pitfall flowers and are pollinated by small flies through deception. It has been suggested that these flies are attracted by floral scent. However, the scent that is emitted from Ceropegia flowers has not been studied using headspace and gas chromatography mass spectrometry methods. It has also been unclear whether or not the flowers are mimics of particular models that attract flies. In the present study, we determined the composition as well as the spatial and temporal patterns of floral scent emitted by C. dolichophylla. Furthermore, we determined the pollinators in the native (China) and non-native (Germany) range of this species, and tested the capability of the floral scent to attract flies in the non-native range. Our data demonstrate that the floral scent, which is emitted from morning until evening, primarily from the tips of the corolla lobes, consists mainly of spiroacetals and aliphatic compounds. Milichiid flies were common visitors/pollinators in the native as well as non-native range, and were attracted by floral scent in bioassays performed in the non-native range. The compounds emitted by C. dolichophylla are unusual for flowers, but are well known from insect pheromones and occur in the glandular secretions of insects. The milichiid flies that visit and pollinate the flowers are kleptoparasites that feed on the prey (haemolymph or other secretions) of predatory arthropods, e.g. spiders, to which they are attracted by scent. Our data thus suggest that the floral scent of C. dolichophylla mimics the feeding sites of kleptoparasitic flies.
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