The role of floral scent in plant-pollinator interactions

The role of floral scent in plant-pollinator interactions

The role of floral scent in plant-pollinator interactions

IMG_4827 (800x600)Pollinators use floral scent to locate food sources, but the information conveyed to pollinators through specific volatile signals is not well understood. Graduate student Ariela Haber and Professor David Carr, through collaboration with Professors Consuelo De Moraes and Mark Mescher at ETH Zurich, study the role of floral scent in plant-pollinator interactions using the yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) and the common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens). Preliminary results suggest that M. guttatus produces a complex blend of volatile compounds, some of which signal the presence of food to pollinators. However, bees base foraging decisions primarily on compounds with innate attractive properties rather than those that indicate food is present. These results and future work will enhance our understanding of the complex volatile signals produced by flowers, and will have important implications for the ecology and evolution of floral scent and plant-pollinator interactions.