J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2017, Vol. 59 ›› Issue (11): 825-839.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12580

• Plant Reproduction Biology • Previous Articles    

Variation in floral characters, particularly floral scent, in sapromyophilous Stemona species

Gao Chen1,2†*, Wei-Chang Gong3†, Jia Ge1,2, Johann Schinnerl4, Bin Wang1,2,5 and Wei-Bang Sun1,2*   

  1. 1Kunming Botanical Garden, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
    2Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
    3College of Life Science and Technology, Honghe University, Mengzi 661199, China
    4Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, Division of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, University of Vienna, A-1030 Wien, Rennweg 14, Austria
    5University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-07-12 Accepted:2017-08-22 Published:2017-11-13
  • About author:These authors contributed equally to this work
    **Correspondences: E-mail: Gao Chen (chen_gao@mail.kib.ac.cn, Dr. Chen is fully responsible for the distribution of all materials associated with this article); Wei-Bang Sun (wbsun@mail.kib.ac.cn)


Flowers or inflorescences often deploy various signals, including visual, olfactory, and gustatory cues, that can be detected by their pollinators. In many plants, these cues and their functions are poorly understood. Deciphering the interactions between floral cues and pollinators is crucial for analyzing the reproductive success of flowering plants. In this study, we examined the composition of the fetid floral scents produced by several Stemona species, including nine S. tuberosa populations from across China, using dynamic headspace adsorption, gas chromatography, and mass spectrometry techniques. We compared variations in floral phenotype, including floral longevity, nectar rewards, pollinator behavior, and flower length and color among the Stemona species. Of the 54 scent compounds identified, the major compounds include fetid dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, 1-pyrroline, butyric acid, p-cresol, isoamyl alcohol, and indole. We detected striking differentiation in floral scent at both the species and population level, and even within a population of plants with different colored flowers. Floral characteristics related to sapromyophily and deceptive pollination, including flower color mimicking livor mortis and a lack of nectar, were found in five Stemona species, indicating that Stemona is a typical sapromyophilous taxon. Species of this monocot genus might employ evolutionary tactics to exploit saprophilous flies for pollination.

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