Nocturnal pollination by fungus gnats of the Colombian endemic species, Pleurothallis marthae (Orchidaceae: Pleurothallidinae)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2014
Authors:Duque–Buitrago, CAndrea, Alzate–Quintero, NFabio, J. Otero, T
Start Page:407
Keywords:Bradysia, fungus gnats, Mycetophila, olfactory mimicry, orchid pollination, pollinators

Contemporary patterns of plant biodiversity result from the ecological and evolutionary processes
generated by species interactions. Understanding these interactions is key for effective biodiversity conservation
at the species and the ecosystem level. Orchid species often have highly specialised pollinator interactions, and
the  preservation  of  these  is  critical  for  in  situ  orchid  conservation.  The  majority  of  orchid  species  occur  in 
tropical regions, and information regarding their interactions is limited. We present data on pollinator identities,
pollination mechanisms and flowering phenology of the Colombian endemic orchid,
Pleurothallis  marthae
We  evaluated  the  mechanisms  of  attraction,  the  presence  of  osmophores,  and  the  reproductive  system  of 
the  species. Pleurothallis  marthae   is  self-compatible  with  nocturnal  anthesis  pollinated  by  Mycetophila
  sp.  (Mycetophilidae), probably attracted by a string fungus like smell liberated by the flower and Bradysia
  sp.  (Sciaridae) that feed on nectar in the labellum. Osmophores and nectaries were detected in the epidermis of the
sepals and petals. We present new evidence that the genus Pleurothallis is adapted to Diptera pollination. Our
study indicates that the pollination mechanism of P. marthae is based on the nocturnal attraction of two species
of fungus gnats, probably combining food attraction and brood place deception.

Refereed Designation:Refereed
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