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J Chem Ecol. 2002 Feb;28(2):283-95.

Specific attraction of fig-pollinating wasps: role of volatile compounds released by tropical figs.

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  • 1Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive-CNRS, Montpellier, France.


Floral scents often act as pollinator attractants. In the case of obligate and specific plant-pollinator relationships, the role of floral signals may be crucial in allowing the encounter of the partners. About 750 Ficus species (Moraceae) are involved in such interactions, each with a distinct species of pollinating wasp (Chalcidoidea, Agaonidae). Several species have been shown to release volatile compounds, but their role in pollinator attraction has rarely been simultaneously tested. We investigated the floral scents of four tropical fig species and combined chemical analysis with biological tests of stimulation of insects. Pollinators of three species were stimulated by the odor of their associated fig species and generally not by the odor of another species. The fourth actually comprised two distinct varieties. The main compound was often a different one in each species. Floral blends of different species always shared compounds, but ratios of these compounds varied among species.

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