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Conflicting selection on floral scent emission in the orchid Gymnadenia conopsea

  • Elodie Chapurlat
  • Jon Ågren
  • Joseph Anderson
  • Magne Friberg
  • Nina Sletvold
Publishing year: 2019-02-14
Language: English
Pages: 2009-2022
Publication/Series: New Phytologist
Volume: 222
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Floral scent is a crucial trait for pollinator attraction. Yet only a handful of studies have estimated selection on scent in natural populations and no study has quantified the relative importance of pollinators and other agents of selection. In the fragrant orchid Gymnadenia conopsea, we used electroantennographic data to identify floral scent compounds detected by local pollinators and quantified pollinator-mediated selection on emission rates of 10 target compounds as well as on flowering start, visual display and spur length. Nocturnal pollinators contributed more to reproductive success than diurnal pollinators, but there was significant pollinator-mediated selection on both diurnal and nocturnal scent emission. Pollinators selected for increased emission of two compounds and reduced emission of two other compounds, none of which were major constituents of the total bouquet. In three cases, pollinator-mediated selection was opposed by nonpollinator-mediated selection, leading to weaker or no detectable net selection. Our study demonstrates that minor scent compounds can be targets of selection, that pollinators do not necessarily favour stronger scent signalling, and that some scent compounds are subject to conflicting selection from pollinators and other agents of selection. Hence, including floral scent traits into selection analysis is important for understanding the mechanisms behind floral evolution.


  • Botany
  • agents of selection
  • conflicting selection
  • diurnal and nocturnal scent emission
  • floral evolution
  • floral scent
  • pollinator-mediated selection
  • volatile organic compounds


  • ISSN: 0028-646X
Magne Friberg
E-mail: magne [dot] friberg [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

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Evolutionary Ecology of Plant–Insect Interactions


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Karin Gross