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The evolution of floral scent and olfactory preferences in pollinators: coevolution or pre-existing bias?


Schiestl, Florian P; Dötterl, Stefan (2012). The evolution of floral scent and olfactory preferences in pollinators: coevolution or pre-existing bias? Evolution, International Journal of Organic Evolution, 66(7):2042-2055.

Abstract

Coevolution is thought to be a major factor in shaping plant–pollinator interactions. Alternatively, plants may have evolved traits that fitted pre-existing preferences or morphologies in the pollinators. Here, we test these two scenarios in the plant family of Araceae and scarab beetles (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae) as pollinators. We focused on floral volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and production/detection of VOCs by scarab beetles. We found phylogenetic structure in the production/detection of methoxylated aromatics in scarabs, but not plants. Within the plants, most of the compounds showed a well-supported pattern of correlated evolution with scarab-beetle pollination. In contrast, the scarabs showed no correlation between VOC production/detection and visitation to Araceae flowers, with the exception of the VOC skatole. Moreover, many VOCs were found in nonpollinating beetle groups (e.g., Melolonthinae) that are ancestors of pollinating scarabs. Importantly, none of the tested VOCs were found to have originated in pollinating taxa. Our analysis indicates a Jurassic origin of VOC production/detection in scarabs, but a Cretaceous/Paleocene origin of floral VOCs in plants. Therefore, we argue against coevolution, instead supporting the scenario of sequential evolution of floral VOCs in Araceae driven by pre-existing bias of pollinators.

Abstract

Coevolution is thought to be a major factor in shaping plant–pollinator interactions. Alternatively, plants may have evolved traits that fitted pre-existing preferences or morphologies in the pollinators. Here, we test these two scenarios in the plant family of Araceae and scarab beetles (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae) as pollinators. We focused on floral volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and production/detection of VOCs by scarab beetles. We found phylogenetic structure in the production/detection of methoxylated aromatics in scarabs, but not plants. Within the plants, most of the compounds showed a well-supported pattern of correlated evolution with scarab-beetle pollination. In contrast, the scarabs showed no correlation between VOC production/detection and visitation to Araceae flowers, with the exception of the VOC skatole. Moreover, many VOCs were found in nonpollinating beetle groups (e.g., Melolonthinae) that are ancestors of pollinating scarabs. Importantly, none of the tested VOCs were found to have originated in pollinating taxa. Our analysis indicates a Jurassic origin of VOC production/detection in scarabs, but a Cretaceous/Paleocene origin of floral VOCs in plants. Therefore, we argue against coevolution, instead supporting the scenario of sequential evolution of floral VOCs in Araceae driven by pre-existing bias of pollinators.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:20 Feb 2013 07:38
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 19:36
Publisher:Blackwell, Society for the Study of Evolution
ISSN:0014-3820
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01593.x

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