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Keywords:

  • Figs;
  • headspace;
  • pollination mutualism;
  • variability;
  • volatile compounds

Summary

  • 1
    The mutualism between figs and pollinators is strict and pollination of female flowers occurs by deceit. Hence the chemical signal responsible for the encounter of the partners is expected to have limited variability. However, since male and female trees bloom at different times, sexual mimicry may not be necessary. The variability of floral odour blends of Ficus carica was studied between sexes, among trees and over time, as were the quantity and identity of the released compounds.
  • 2
    Male and female figs emitted the same compounds, but the quantities and proportions among the compounds differed.
  • 3
    The composition of the fig blend and the temporal pattern of emission were similar among trees of the same sex, and emission was synchronized with pollinator presence.
  • 4
    Composition of the blend and quantity released changed considerably over time, but at the time of maximal emission, all three compounds known to be essential to attract pollinators were released by male and female figs.
  • 5
    In a seasonal environment in which male and female flowers have different phenologies, selection for a strict sexual mimicry of the volatile attractants is weak. The identity of the compounds is the same for male and female figs, but their relative abundance in the blend differ.