Meeting Abstract

104.2  Saturday, Jan. 7  The role of pollinator olfactory processing in biasing floral scent evolution CLIFFORD, MR*; RIFFELL, JA; University of Washington; University of Washington

Chemical communication is an important and ancient method of information transfer between angiosperms and the animals with which they interact. However, in stark contrast to the rich literature investigating the visual aspect of pollination syndromes evolved by flowering plants to attract certain animal pollinators, quite little is known about the possibility of corresponding olfactory signals. We investigated this possibility by asking (1) whether convergent evolution has shaped the floral scents of plants that attract the same pollinator classes to inhabit the same chemical space, and (2) what kind of neural response is stimulated in insect pollinators by the chemical components of typical bird-, bat-, bee-, fly-, and moth- attracting floral scents. We used dynamic sorption to capture headspace volatiles from a wide variety of flowering plants from the both field and the UW Botany Greenhouse, and ran these samples through a GCMS to identify and quantify proportions of individual chemical components in each floral scent. We then chose available flowers that typified the scent most attractive to certain pollinator classes and collected multiples of those species. We used multi-channel recording from the antennal lobe to assess the neural response of different insect pollinators to these typical floral scents. Understanding chemical communication between plants and their pollinators can help us understand the basic evolution of this widespread mutualism. It may also be critical to helping us develop crop plants that are attractive to alternative pollinators, helping to ensure food-security and mitigate economic damage as the future of commercial honeybee pollination remains uncertain.