Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plants mimic scent of pollinating beetles

Date:
April 3, 2012
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
The color and scent of flowers and their perception by pollinator insects are believed to have evolved in the course of mutual adaptation. However, an evolutionary biologist has now demonstrated that this is not the case with the arum family at least, which evolved its scent analogously to the pre-existing scents of scarab beetles and thus adapted to the beetles unilaterally. The mutual adaptation between plants and pollinators therefore does not always take place.

Amorphophallus konjac.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Zurich

The color and scent of flowers and their perception by pollinator insects are believed to have evolved in the course of mutual adaptation. However, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Zurich has now proved that this is not the case with the arum family at least, which evolved its scent analogously to the pre-existing scents of scarab beetles and thus adapted to the beetles unilaterally. The mutual adaptation between plants and pollinators therefore does not always take place.

Soon, the gardens and fields will be blooming, fragrant and buzzing again. Bees, flies and beetles fly, as they have done for millions of years, from flower to flower in search of food or mates, drawn by flower shapes, colors and the scents of the individual plants. Often, pollinating insects favor certain scents and preferentially visit the flowers in question. Previously, researchers always assumed that floral scents and the fondness of pollinating insects for a specific scent evolved mutually via coevolution of plants and insects. However, the evolutionary biologist Florian Schiestl from the University of Zurich now proves that this was not the case with the arum family and their pollinators.

Scent of the scarab beetle mimicked

Schiestl and a colleague from Bayreuth studied the arum family and one of its pollinators, the scarab beetles. In the beetles, they discovered many scent molecules used for chemical communication that were also found in the plants. Based on a phylogenetic reconstruction, they realized that these scents were already present in the ancestors of today's scarab beetles. Evidently, these prehistoric scarab beetles already used the same or similar scents back in the Jurassic period to find food or mates. Unlike today's scarab beetles, these ancestors did not pollinate plants, the first members of the arum family to be pollinated by beetles not appearing until around 40 million years later. "In the course of evolution, the arum family mimicked the scents of scarab beetles to attract pollinating insects more efficiently," says Schiestl.

Coevolution less common than assumed

In research, coevolution is regarded as a driving force behind the development of a mutual adaptation between two organisms. However, this is not true of the arum family, which developed its scent along the pre-existing communication of scarab beetle scents. "Coevolution between plants and pollinating insects might well be less common than we thought," Schiestl concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Florian P. Schiestl, Stefan Dφtterl. he Evolution of Floral Scent and Olfactory Preferences in Pollinators: Coevolution or Pre-Existing Bias? Evolution, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01593.x

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Plants mimic scent of pollinating beetles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403111854.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2012, April 3). Plants mimic scent of pollinating beetles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403111854.htm
University of Zurich. "Plants mimic scent of pollinating beetles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403111854.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) — A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins