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Ann Bot. 2010 May;105(5):777-82. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcq045. Epub 2010 Mar 12.

Floral scents repel facultative flower visitors, but attract obligate ones.

Author information

1
Department of Animal Ecology & Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg Biozentrum, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Biological mutualisms rely on communication between partners, but also require protective measures against exploitation. Animal-pollinated flowers need to attract pollinators but also to avoid conflicts with antagonistic consumers. The view of flower visitors as mutualistic and antagonistic agents considers primarily the plants' interest. A classification emphasizing the consumer's point of view, however, may be more useful when considering animal's adaptations to flower visits which may include a tolerance against defensive floral scent compounds.

METHODS:

In a meta-analysis covering 18 studies on the responses of animals to floral scents, the animals were assigned to the categories of obligate and facultative flower visitors which considers their dependency on floral resources. Their responses on floral scents were compared.

KEY RESULTS:

On average, obligate flower visitors, often corresponding to pollinators, were attracted to floral scent compounds. In contrast, facultative and mainly antagonistic visitors were strongly repelled by floral scents. The findings confirm that floral scents have a dual function both as attractive and defensive cues.

CONCLUSIONS:

Whether an animal depends on floral resources determines its response to these signals, suggesting that obligate flower visitors evolved a tolerance against primarily defensive compounds. Therefore, floral scent bouquets in conjunction with nutritious rewards may solve the conflicting tasks of attracting mutualists while repelling antagonists.

PMID:
20228087
PMCID:
PMC2859918
DOI:
10.1093/aob/mcq045
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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