Orchid can mimic the smell of carrion to attract pollinators


16/03/2011

Enjoying the aroma of wild flowers, beware or pass by orchids from South Africa. These flowers are able to mimic the color and the smell of rotting flesh to attract their main pollinator, gray meat fly.

"We know that deceive and attract insects for pollination of their own - is a characteristic property of orchids. We also know that some plant species to attract the flies can simulate even carrots. What we did not know was how successful it is practiced" - said Timotheus van der Niet (Timotheus van der Niet) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. "Simulating not too often an effective way to pollinate the plants."

Satyrium pumilum orchid was discovered in South Africa, where it uses a relatively weak odor of rotting flesh to lure gray meat flies. Flies tend to flock carcasses, which serves as a food for larvae.

"Flowers orchids are incredibly specialized in their actions. They do not attract the flies and flies just the right size to be able to take the right position to collect pollen" - said Timotheus van der Niet.

The researchers were interested in how the flower attracts pollinators, because it does not use the nectar, as do some other plants. The flower is really very misleading, and most pollinators like bees collect nectar for the service pleasant colors, but the flies do not get anything in return for his visit to the orchid. Flies, visiting an orchid pollen covered it and thus deliver this pollen (grains, of which subsequently formed sperm cells) in the female reproductive part of another type of orchid Satyrium pumilum.

"We found that the scent plays an important role in pulling the flies, and even inside the flower different scents attract the flies, prompting them to the correct position to collect pollen" - said der Niet.

Researchers obnaruzhvaili a large number of these flies, covered with pollen, animal corpses in the downed vehicle, which they are. Road dead animals are also attracted flies and other species, but have not seen signs of a visit orchids.

"The combination of smell and sight irrefutable some flies. Carrot level simulation is amazing, and we even saw a female fly leave larvae in a flower because she thought it was a carrot" - told der Niet. "This is a natural phenomenon can completely deny the expression swarmed like flies to honey."

The analysis was published in the March issue of the journal "Annals of Biology".

Original: LiveScience Translation: M. Potter


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