Floral odor variation in two heterostylous species of Primula

Anne Gaskett, Florian Schiestl, Elena Conti

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Floral traits such as odor, color, and morphology are important pollinator attractants. Variation in floral traits may influence floral constancy, the tendency of pollinating insects to visit flowers of only one type. We investigated for the first time variation in odor between floral morphs in heterostylous species. We analyzed inter- and intraspecific odor variation in the "pin" and "thrum" floral morphs of sympatric Primula elatior and P. farinosa (Primulaceae). Floral volatiles were sampled with headspace sorption. Quantitative analysis and chemical identification were performed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. The species produced different floral bouquets. P. elatior emitted mostly limonene with small amounts of alpha-pinene, myrcene, and sabinene. P. farinosa produced benzaldehyde, 4-oxoisophorone (2,6,6-trimethyl-2-cyclohexene-1,4-dione), benzyl alcohol, and benzyl acetate. These interspecific differences may play a role in promoting floral constancy and maintaining species integrity. Conversely, no differences were detected between the scents of pin and thrum morphs within each species. Heterostyly relies on pollinators visiting both floral morphs. There may be stabilizing selection against divergences in traits that may cause pollinators to develop floral constancy to only one of the floral morphs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1223-1228
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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