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Chemical analysis of floral scents in sympatric Ficus species: highlighting different compositions of floral scents in morphologically and phylogenetically close species

  • Okamoto, Tomoko1
  • Su, Zhi-Hui2, 3
  • 1 Gifu University, 1-1 Yanagido, Gifu, 501-1193, Japan , Gifu (Japan)
  • 2 JT Biohistory Research Hall, 1-1, Murasaki-cho, Takatsuki, Osaka, 569-1125, Japan , Takatsuki (Japan)
  • 3 Osaka University, Osaka, 560-0043, Japan , Osaka (Japan)
Published Article
Plant Systematics and Evolution
Springer Vienna
Publication Date
Jun 13, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s00606-021-01767-y
Springer Nature
  • Original Article


The species of Ficus are pollinated by host-specific fig wasps. In most cases, each fig wasp species is associated with a single species of Ficus, and such high host specificity is maintained by the responses of the pollinating wasps to specific floral scents of the host species. We hypothesized that closely related sympatric species with similar morphological characteristics would show greater differences in floral scent profiles than morphologically distinct species, because morphological characteristics may act as an additional factor for the maintenance of the species-specific association with pollinators. We analyzed the floral scent composition of five Ficus species growing sympatrically by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and analyzed host-specificity in one of the fig wasp species using Y-tube olfactometer assays. The scent profiles of the investigated species consist mainly of terpenoids and benzenoids with few unique compounds are typical for Ficus. Although, by the nonmetric multidimensional scaling, the overlapped floral scent compositions between species were detected, the bioassays with the pollinator species of Ficus erecta indicated that pollinating fig wasp can distinguish its host species using floral scents, even if the two species presented have similar scent compositions. Comparing the scent profiles of Ficus species with their genetic relatedness and their morphological characters, ostiole size, syconium size, and tree height, in order to clarify such effects on the differentiation of floral scents in sympatric Ficus species revealed that Ficus species with similar ostiole size and tree height had different scent profiles even though they were phylogenetically related.

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