Evidence for Behavioral Attractiveness of Methoxylated Aromatics in a Dynastid Scarab Beetle-Pollinated Araceae
Many plants attract their pollinators with floral scents, and these olfactory signals are especially important at night, when visual signals become inefficient. Dynastid scarab beetles are a speciose group of night-active pollinators, and several plants pollinated by these insects have methoxylated aromatic compounds in their scents. However, there is a large gap in our knowledge regarding the compounds responsible for beetle attraction. We used chemical analytical analyses to determine temporal patterns of scent emission and the composition of scent released from inflorescences of Philodendron selloum. The attractiveness of the main components in the scent to the dynastid scarab beetle Erioscelis emarginata, the exclusive pollinator of this plant, was assessed in field biotests. The amount of scent increased rapidly in the evening, and large amounts of scent were released during the activity time of the beetle pollinators. Inflorescences emitted a high number of compounds of different biosynthetic origin, among them both uncommon and also widespread flower scents. Methoxylated aromatic compounds dominated the scent, and 4-methoxystyrene, the most abundant compound, attracted E. emarginata beetles. Other compounds, such as (Z)-jasmone and possibly also the methoxylated aromatic compound 3,4-dimethoxystyrene increased the attractiveness of 4-methoxystyrene. Methoxylated aromatics, which are known from other dynastid pollinated plants as well, are important signals in many scarab beetles in a different context (e.g., pheromones), thus suggesting that these plants exploit pre-existing preferences of the beetles for attracting this group of insects as pollinators.
KeywordsAraceae Dynamic headspace Electronic sensor and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry Flower scent Plant-pollinator interactions Scarabaeidae
- Loughrin, J. H., Potter, D. A., and Hamilton-Kemp, T. R. 1998. Attraction of Japanese beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) to host plant volatiles in field trapping experiments. Environ. Entomol. 27:395–400.Google Scholar
- Schiestl, F. P. and Dötterl, S. 2012. The evolution of floral scent and olfactory preferences in pollinators: coevolution or pre-existing bias? Evolution. 66:2042–2055.Google Scholar
- Surburg, H., Guentert, M., and Harder, H. 1993. Investigation of volatiles from flowers: analytical and olfactory aspects, pp. 103–121, in R. Hopp and K. Mori (eds.), Recent Developments in Flavor and Fragrance Chemistry. Weinheim, VCH.Google Scholar