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Odor mimetism?

Key substances inOphrys lutea-Andrena pollination relationship (Orchidaceae: Andrenidae)


The hypothesis of chemical mimesis in the relationship betweenOphrys orchids and their pollinators was tested experimentally using preparations ofOphrys lutea var.lutea odor and the males of the solitary beeAndrena fuscipes, a species constellation that does not coexist under natural conditions. Correspondence in odor production was shown to occur. Identification of the compounds in the cephalic secretion ofA. fuscipes, males and females, and the flower labella extracts, was performed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Geraniol, nerol, citral,E,E-farnesol and 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one were present in the extracts of both the orchid and one or both sexes of the bee. Extracts, TLC fractions of extracts, blends, and separate compounds were tested in the field in the mating flight areas ofA. fuscipes males. Extracts and blends containingE,E-farnesol, geraniol, and geranial showed the highest attractivity to the male bees. These compounds seem to be responsible for the release of the odor-guided mating behavior at theO. lutea labellum and can be regarded as general attractants for many species ofAndrena.

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Borg-Karlson, A.K., Tengö, J. Odor mimetism?. J Chem Ecol 12, 1927–1941 (1986).

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