Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 186, Issue 3–4, pp 147–156 | Cite as

Fig volatiles: Their role in attracting pollinators and maintaining pollinator specificity

  • Anthony B. Ware
  • Perry T. Kaye
  • Stephen G. Compton
  • Simon Van Noort


Each fig tree species (Ficus) is totally dependent on a specific species of wasp for pollination and the larvae of these wasps only develop in the ovules of their specificFicus host. Because the fig crop on any particular tree is generally highly synchronized, the shortlived female wasps must leave their natal tree in order to find figs which are suitable for oviposition. Chemical volatiles produced by figs when they are ready for pollination are thought to be the means by which the wasps detect a suitable host. Gas chromatograms of the fig volatiles of 7 species ofFicus showed them to be species specific. Age related changes in the volatile profiles were noted as extra volatiles are produced when the figs were ready for pollination.

Key words

Moraceae Ficus figs Agaonidae fig wasps Volatiles coevolution pollination host specificity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony B. Ware
    • 1
  • Perry T. Kaye
    • 2
  • Stephen G. Compton
    • 1
  • Simon Van Noort
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and EntomologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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