Floral scent chemistry in the orchid genus Gongora

Gongora quinquenervis
Gongora_quinquenervis. Image: Maarten Sepp / Wikipedia.

Floral scent is a key component of pollinator attraction and its chemistry modulates pollinator behavior and the formation of plant-pollinator networks. Neotropical Gongora orchids exhibit specialized pollinator associations with male euglossine bees, in which male bees visit orchid flowers to collect volatile chemicals that they store in hind-leg pouches to subsequently use during courtship display.

Hence, Gongora floral scent compounds simultaneously serve as signaling molecules and pollinator rewards. Hetherington-Rauth & Ramírez conducted a comparative analysis of floral scent across the genus showing that scent molecules are largely species specific and qualitatively and quantitatively divergent among closely related taxa.

Further reading

Molly C. Hetherington-Rauth, Santiago R. Ramírez, 2016, 'Evolution and diversity of floral scent chemistry in the euglossine bee-pollinated orchid genusGongora', Annals of Botany, vol. 118, no. 1, pp. 135-148 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw072