Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 23, Issue 12, pp 2881–2895 | Cite as

Variation of Floral Scent Emission and Postpollination Changes in Individual Flowers of Ophrys sphegodes Subsp. sphegodes

  • Florian P. Schiestl
  • Manfred Ayasse
  • Hannes F. Paulus
  • Dirk Erdmann
  • Wittko Francke


We investigated the scent composition of individual flowers of Ophrys sphegodes, its alteration following pollination, and of picked flowers by day and at night. Odor samples were collected by headspace sorption and analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. To evaluate the function of postpollination odor changes, we carried out behavioral tests on the pollinator Andrena nigroaenea with pollinated and unpollinated flowers. We identified 27 volatiles in the flower scents. Aldehydes and alkanes were most frequently found. Aldehydes were the most abundant class of compounds (40–50%). When flowers were picked, they emitted significantly lower total amounts of volatiles than unpicked flowers, and their odor bouquets were significantly different. Comparison of scents released by day and at night showed no decrease in scent emission during nighttime, but the odor bouquets were significantly different. Pollinated flowers produced significantly different odor bouquets, and the total amount of scent emitted two to four days after pollination was significantly lower compared with unpollinated flowers. In addition, behavioral tests with A. nigroaenea males showed that flowers were significantly less attractive three days after pollination. This reduced attractiveness is hypothesized to guide pollinators to the unpollinated flowers within an inflorescence, and thus increase the reproductive success of the plant.

Ophrys sphegodes subsp sphegodes Andrena nigroaenea floral scent floral semiochemicals headspace sorption postpollination changes nocturnal scent emission 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian P. Schiestl
    • 1
  • Manfred Ayasse
    • 1
  • Hannes F. Paulus
    • 1
  • Dirk Erdmann
    • 2
  • Wittko Francke
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Zoology, Department of Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Institute of Organic Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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