Pollination mutualism between a new species of the genus Colocasiomyia de Meijere (Diptera: Drosophilidae) and Steudnera colocasiifolia (Araceae) in Yunnan, China


Kohei Takenaka, Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, 060-0819 Japan. Email: bean@pop.lowtem.hokudai.ac.jp


A new species of the genus Colocasiomyia de Meijere (Diptera: Drosophilidae) was discovered from inflorescences of Steudnera colocasiifolia K. Koch (Araceae) in Yunnan, China. The new species is described as Colocasiomyia steudnerae Takenaka and Toda, sp. nov., and we investigated the reproductive ecology of both the fly and the plant species. This fly species reproduces in the inflorescences/infructescences of the plant, and depends almost throughout its entire life cycle on the host plant. The fly species is the most abundant flower visitor for S. colocasiifolia and behaves intimately with the flowering events, suggesting that it is the unique and most efficient pollinator for the host plant. Bagging (insect-exclusion) treatment of inflorescences resulted in no fruits. These findings strongly suggest that intimate pollination mutualism has evolved between the fly and the host plant, as are known in other Colocasiomyia flies and Araceae plants. One notable feature of this system is that the new species almost monopolizes the host-plant inflorescence as a visitor, without any cohabiting Colocasiomyia species. In comparison to other cases where two Colocasiomyia species share the same inflorescence and infructescence of Araceae host plants for reproduction by separating their breeding niches microallopatrically between the staminate (upper male-flower) and the pistillate (lower female-flower) regions on the spadix, C. steudnerae exhibits a mixture of stamenicolous and pistillicolous breeding habits.