15-6 Thursday, Jan. 4 11:45 - 12:00 Orchid Pollination By Mosquitoes OKUBO, RP*; LAHONDèRE, C; VINAUGER, C; RIFFELL, JA; University of Washington; University of Washington; University of Washington; University of Washington firstname.lastname@example.org
Many studies have extensively investigated the host-seeking behavior of female mosquitoes as disease vectors. It is also known that both male and female mosquitoes require sugar for flight and survival and yet, this aspect mosquito feeding ecology is understudied and not well understood in nature. Many mosquito species acquire sugar from plant sources such as the nectaries from flowers, but are rarely identified as major pollinators. Here, we discuss a species of snowmelt mosquito, Ochlerotatus communis, as the major pollinator of Platanthera obtusata, the blunt-leaved rein orchid. We show that the orchid is highly dependent on mosquitoes for successful fruit formation through pollination exclusion. Through a two-choice behavioral assay, we show that this unique interaction between this orchid and its pollinating mosquito species are mediated by the floral scent. We then take a morphometric approach to see if this mutualism is further specified by the morphological match between the flower structure and the head of the mosquito. Our study provides an ideal and reliable system to further understand mosquito sugar-feeding behavior in a natural context.