Go to page

Bibliographic Metadata

The betrayed thief – the extraordinary strategy of Aristolochia rotunda to deceive its pollinators
AuthorOelschlägel, Birgit ; Nuss, Matthias ; von Tschirnhaus, Michael ; Pätzold, Claudia ; Neinhuis, Christoph ; Dötterl, Stefan ; Wanke, Stefan
Published in
New Phytologist, Hoboken : Wiley, 2015, Vol. 206, Issue 1, page 342-351
Document typeJournal Article
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubs:3-6384 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
The betrayed thief – the extraordinary strategy of Aristolochia rotunda to deceive its pollinators [0.84 mb]
Abstract (English)

Pollination of several angiosperms is based on deceit. In such systems, the flowers advertise a reward that ultimately is not provided. We report on a previously unknown pollination/mimicry system discovered in deceptive Aristolochia rotunda (Aristolochiaceae). Pollinators were collected in the natural habitat and identified. Flower scent and the volatiles of insects (models) potentially mimicked were analyzed by chemical analytical techniques. Electrophysiological and behavioral tests on the pollinators identified the components that mediate the plant–pollinator interaction and revealed the model of the mimicry system. The main pollinators of A. rotunda were female Chloropidae. They are food thieves that feed on secretions of true bugs (Miridae) while these are eaten by arthropod predators. Freshly killed mirids and Aristolochia flowers released the same scent components that chloropids use to find their food sources. Aristolochia exploits these components to deceive their chloropid pollinators. Aristolochia and other trap flowers were believed to lure saprophilous flies and mimic brood sites of pollinators. We demonstrate for A. rotunda, and hypothesize for other deceptive angiosperms, the evolution of a different, kleptomyiophilous pollination strategy. It involves scent mimicry and the exploitation of kleptoparasitic flies as pollinators. Our findings suggest a reconsideration of plants assumed to show sapromyiophilous pollination.

CC-BY-License (4.0)Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License