Sexual mimicry in Mormolyca ringens (Lindl.) Schltr. (Orchidaceae: Maxillariinae).

Authors:
Adriana Flach
Adriana Flach
State University of Campinas
Brazil
Samantha Koehler
Samantha Koehler
University of Florida
United States
Anita J Marsaioli
Anita J Marsaioli
Instituto de Química
Montevideo | Uruguay

Ann Bot 2004 Jun 29;93(6):755-62. Epub 2004 Mar 29.

Departamento de Botânica, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Caixa Postal 6109, 13083-970, Campinas, SP, 13083-970, Brazil.

Background And Aims: Pollination through sexual mimicry, also known as pseudocopulation, has been suggested to occur in some genera of the Neotropical orchid subtribe Maxillariinae. However, it has been demonstrated so far only for Trigonidium obtusum. This study reports and illustrates pollination through sexual mimicry in Mormolyca ringens.

Methods: A total of 70 h were dedicated to the observation of flowers and pollinator behaviour, which was photographically recorded. Flower features involved in pollinator attraction were studied using a stereomicroscope and by SEM analyses. Preliminary observations on the plant breeding system were made by manually self-pollinating flowers. The chemical composition of the fragrance volatiles was determined by GC/MS analysis.

Key Results: The flower features of M. ringens parallel those of other pseudocopulatory flowers. The labellum shape and indument are reminiscent of an insect. Sexually excited drones of Nannotrigona testaceicornis and Scaptotrigona sp. (both in the Apidae: Meliponini) attempt copulation with the labellum and pollinate the flower in the process. In both bee species, the pollinarium is attached to the scutellum. Pollinator behaviour may promote some degree of self-pollination, but preliminary observations indicate that M. ringens flowers are self-incompatible. Flowers are produced all the year round, which ties in with the production of bee males several times a year. The phylogenetic relationships of M. ringens are discussed and a number of morphological and phenological features supporting them are reported.

Conclusions: It is expected that further research could bring to light whether other Maxillariinae species are also pollinated through sexual mimicry. When a definitive and robust phylogeny of this subtribe is available, it should be possible to determine how many times pseudocopulation evolved and its possible evolutionary history.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mch091DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4242296PMC
June 2004
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