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Deceitful lily fools flies
Date:10/7/2010

to a human nose is most similar to a fruity wine. It was obvious that the plant attracts pollinators with this odor, namely vinegar flies. But unlike other flowers, Arum palaestinum does not give a reward in form of nectar; in fact, flies are trapped in the flower overnight and not released until the next day.

Drosophila melanogaster is also deceived

Johannes Stkl and Marcus Stensmyr have not only collected and analyzed this odor, but also examined and identified the drosophilid species trapped in the plant. Together with behavioral biologist Markus Knaden, they studied the reactions of the insects to different odor molecules. In addition, their colleagues Silke Sachse and Antonia Strutz performed neurophysiological measurements on the flies. The studies provided interesting results: Arum palaestinum attracts an average of 140 flies per plant, mainly flies from eight different Drosophila species including the well-known laboratory work horse and kitchen nuisance Drosophila melanogaster. Fourteen chemical compounds that caused the flies' antennae to respond were emitted by the plant. To test these reactions, Johannes Stkl measured and recorded the action potentials in the antennae of the insects. Chemical analysis of the odor compounds released by the plants showed that most were esters.

"The most remarkable odors of the bouquet were 2,3-butandiol acetate and acetoin acetate," explains Marcus Stensmyr, leader of the study. Interestingly, these molecules are not contained in the bouquets of flowering plants, but are characteristic of vinegar, especially aceto balsamico, and wine or, in other words: yeast fermentation products. Those two compounds as well as four more that also emerge during yeast fermentation showed the strongest and most stable signals in the electroantennograms.

Two receptors, one fraud

In neurophysiological experiments, the flies were exposed to natural o
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Contact: Bill S. Hansson
hansson@ice.mpg.de
49-364-157-1401
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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