From Foe to Friend: Harmful Insects Can Become Pollinators

By: University of Vienna
VIENNA - Oct. 10, 2022 - PRLog -- Tracing a possible origin of animal pollination

An international team of researchers including Florian Etl and Jürg Schönenberger from the University of Vienna, Stefan Dötterl and Mario Schubert from the University of Salzburg, and Oliver Reiser and Christian Kaiser from the University of Regensburg, have for the first time succeeded in providing evidence for an important hypothesis on the evolution and diversity of animal pollination.

The hypothesis states that insect flower pests can become useful pollinators during the course of evolution. Botanists call this "antagonist capture", meaning that plants are able to turn a harmful insect into a pollinator through evolutionary adaptations in their flowers or inflorescences. This theory has now been confirmed for the first time in Syngonium hastiferum, an aroid plant (arum family, Araceae) from Costa Rica. The investigation, which also brought to light a completely new pollination system and a previously unknown flower scent compound, was published in the journal "Current Biology".

Publication in Current Biology:

Evidence for the recruitment of florivorous plants bugs as pollinators: Florian Etl, Christian Kaiser, Oliver Reiser, Mario Schubert, Stefan Dötterl, Jürg Schönenberger

DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.09.013

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