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Pollination by brood-site deception

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Urru,  Isabella
Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Prof. B. S. Hansson, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;
Research Group Dr. M. Stensmyr, Molecular Biology of Olfaction, Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Prof. B. S. Hansson, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Stensmyr,  Marcus Carl
Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Prof. B. S. Hansson, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;
Research Group Dr. M. Stensmyr, Molecular Biology of Olfaction, Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Prof. B. S. Hansson, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Hansson,  Bill
Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Prof. B. S. Hansson, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Urru, I., Stensmyr, M. C., & Hansson, B. (2011). Pollination by brood-site deception. Phytochemistry Reviews, 72(13), 1655-1666. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2011.02.014.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-31AB-D
Abstract
Pollination is often regarded as a mutualistic relationship between flowering plants and insects. In such a relationship, both partners gain a fitness benefit as a result of their interaction. The flower gets pollinated and the insect typically gets a food-related reward. However, flower–insect communication is not always a mutualistic system, as some flowers emit deceitful signals. Insects are thus fooled by irresistible stimuli and pollination is accomplished. Such deception requires very fine tuning, as insects in their typically short life span, try to find mating/feeding breeding sites as efficiently as possible, and following deceitful signals thus is both costly and time-consuming. Deceptive flowers have thus evolved the ability to emit signals that trigger obligate innate or learned responses in the targeted insects. The behavior, and thus the signals, exploited are typically involved in reproduction, from attracting pheromones to brood/food-site cues. Chemical mimicry is one of the main modalities through which flowers trick their pollen vectors, as olfaction plays a pivotal role in insect–insect and insect–plant interactions. Here we focus on floral odors that specifically mimic an oviposition substrate, i.e., brood-site mimicry. The phenomenon is wide spread across unrelated plant lineages of Angiosperm, Splachnaceae and Phallaceae. Targeted insects are mainly beetles and flies, and flowers accordingly often emit, to the human nose, highly powerful and fetid smells that are conversely extremely attractive to the duped insects. Brood-site deceptive plants often display highly elaborate flowers and have evolved a trap-release mechanism. Chemical cues often act in unison with other sensory cues to refine the imitation.