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Pollinator and Herbivore Attraction to Cucurbita Floral Volatiles

Summary: Pollinator and Herbivore Attraction to Cucurbita
Floral Volatiles
Elizabeth S. Andrews & Nina Theis & Lynn S. Adler
Received: 23 March 2007 /Revised: 1 June 2007 /Accepted: 18 June 2007 /
Published online: 21 July 2007
# Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007
Abstract Mutualists and antagonists may place conflicting selection pressures on plant traits.
For example, the evolution of floral traits is typically studied in the context of attracting
pollinators, but traits may incur fitness costs if they are also attractive to antagonists. Striped
cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum) feed on cucurbits and are attracted to several volatiles
emitted by Cucurbita blossoms. However, the effect of these volatiles on pollinator attraction
is unknown. Our goal was to determine whether pollinators were attracted to the same or
different floral volatiles as herbivorous cucumber beetles. We tested three volatiles previously
found to attract cucumber beetles in a factorial design to determine attraction of squash bees
(Peponapis pruinosa), the specialist pollinators of cucurbita species, as well as the specialist
herbivore A. vittatum. We found that 1,2,4-trimethoxybenzene was attractive to both the
pollinator and the herbivore, indole was attractive only to the herbivore, and (E)-
cinnamaldehyde was attractive only to the pollinator. There were no interactions among
volatiles on attraction of squash bees or cucumber beetles. Our results suggest that reduced
indole emission could benefit plants by reducing herbivore attraction without loss of


Source: Adler, Lynn - Department of Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences, University of Massachusetts at Amherst


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology