Comparison of the flower scent of the sexually deceptive orchid Ophrys iricolor and the female sex pheromone of its pollinator Andrena morio
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- Stökl, J., Twele, R., Erdmann, D.H. et al. Chemoecology (2007) 17: 231. doi:10.1007/s00049-007-0383-y
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Ophrys flowers mimic the female produced sex pheromone of their pollinator species to attract males for pollination. The males try to copulate with the putative female and thereby pollinate the flower. Using electrophysiological and chemical analyses, floral volatiles released by O. iricolor as well as the female sex pheromone of its pollinator species, Andrena morio are investigated. Overall, 38 peaks comprising 41 chemical compounds, were found to release reactions in the antennae of male A. morio bees. Analyses using coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometry revealed the presence of alkanes and alkenes with 20 to 29 carbon atoms, aldehydes (C9 to C24) and two esters. Almost all of those compounds were found in similar proportions in both, the floral extracts of O. iricolor and cuticle surface extracts of A. morio females. The pattern of biologically active volatiles described here is very similar to that used by other Ophrys species pollinated by Andrena males.