The chemical and visual bases of the pollination of the Neotropical sexually deceptive orchid Telipogon peruvianus

Carlos Martel, Wittko Francke, Manfred Ayasse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Deception of floral visitors in pollination systems is widely distributed among flowering plants. In deceptive systems, the flower (or part of it) or inflorescence mimics either a specific or an unspecific model to attract pollinators. A previous study showed that Telipogon peruvianus flowers developed sexual deception for pollination. However, it was unknown which stimuli were playing a role in pollination. Therefore, we aim to throw some light onto these questions using colour and chemical analysis and biotests. Interestingly, using spectral reflectance, we show here that the flowers present high contrast similar to that produced by a female tachinid fly sitting on a daisy inflorescence, which is used as food resource. We also tested the role of chemical signals in pollinator attraction by collecting floral and female extracts for chemical and electrophysiological analyses, and carried out behavioural tests. For biotests, various treatments, including synthetic mixtures of the electrophysiologically active compounds found in common in females and flowers, have demonstrated that T. peruvianus flowers mimic the sexual pheromone of their pollinator's females. Thus, we give evidence that T. peruvianus flowers mimic a model composed of two organisms. Our study contributes to the understanding of the evolution of deceptive pollination.
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)1989-2001
Number of pages13
JournalNew Phytologist
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Cite this