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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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Balao, F; Herrera, J; Talavera, S; Dötterl, S: Spatial and temporal patterns of floral scent emission in Dianthus inoxianus and electroantennographic responses of its hawkmoth pollinator, Phytochemistry, 72, 601-609 (2011)
Scent emission is important in nocturnal pollination systems, and plant species pollinated by nocturnal insects often present characteristic odor compositions and temporal patterns of emission. We investigated the temporal (day/night; flower lifetime) and spatial (different flower parts, nectar) pattern of flower scent emission in nocturnally pollinated Dianthus inoxianus, and determined which compounds elicit physiological responses on the antennae of the sphingid pollinator Hyles livornica. The scent of D. inoxianus comprises 68 volatile compounds, but is dominated by aliphatic 2-ketones and sesquiterpenoids, which altogether make up 82% of collected volatiles. Several major and minor compounds elicit electrophysiological responses in the antennae of H. livornica. Total odor emission does not vary along day and night hours, and neither does along the life of the flower. However, the proportion of compounds eliciting physiological responses varies between day and night. All flower parts as well as nectar release volatiles. The scent of isolated flower parts is dominated by fatty acid derivatives, whereas nectar is dominated by benzenoids. Dissection (= damage) of flowers induced a ca. 20-fold increase in the rate of emission of EAD-active volatiles, especially aliphatic 2-ketones. We suggest that aliphatic 2-ketones might contribute to pollinator attraction in D. inoxianus, even though they have been attributed an insect repellent function in other plant species. We also hypothesize that the benzenoids in nectar may act as an honest signal (‘nectar guide’) for pollinators.
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