Orchidantha deceives flies using stinking mucilage released from osmophores

ISHS Secretariat
Orchidantha deceives flies using stinking mucilage released from osmophores

Fetid as its name, Orchidantha foetida Jenjitt. & K. Larsen, an unusual ginger-like species endemic to Thailand in the Zingiberales order, has a strong rotten odor. This plant secretes mucilage from its flowers. A recent study on anatomy, micromorphology, and histochemistry of Orchidantha flowers revealed papillae, small nipple-like projections, and a blistered and parallel wrinkled epidermis on the flower’s upper lip surface. In addition, this surface is sprinkled with minute droplets of substances that were secreted from the epidermal cells. These features likely developed over evolutionary time in a symbiotic relationship with this species to attract saprophilous pollinators like flies. Histochemical results revealed the location of these scent-containing structures on adaxial epidermal cells. These cells may act as osmophores with a scent releasing function. The experiment also observed the presence of mucilage, phenolic compounds, and terpene accumulation inside adaxial epidermal cells. These secretions are known to allure and deceive pollinators, because these compounds are not present for food. This report was summarized from the manuscript entitled “Micromorphology and histochemistry on lip of Orchidantha foetida (Lowiaceae),” presented by Possathorn Nopun. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Botany and received the ISHS Young Minds Award for the best poster presentation of the IX International Scientific and Practical Conference on Biotechnology as an Instrument for Plant Biodiversity Conservation (Physiological, Biochemical, Embryological, Genetic and Legal Aspects). This symposium was held virtually in Thailand, in July 2021.

Mr. Nopun has worked within the Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, for his BS, MS, and now for his PhD degree. Under the supervision of Assistant Professor, Dr. Sasivimon Chomchalow Swangpol, Mr. Nopun’s research focuses on micromorphology, anatomy, histochemistry, floral scent analysis, and pollinator observations on fetid flowers of Orchidantha species to explore more about the relationship between plants and animals.

Possathorn Nopun won the ISHS Young Minds Award for the best poster at the IX International Scientific and Practical Conference on Biotechnology as an Instrument for Plant Biodiversity Conservation (Physiological, Biochemical, Embryological, Genetic and Legal Aspects), which was held virtually in Thailand in July 2021.

Possathorn Nopun, Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, 272 Thanon Rama VI, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400, Thailand, e-mail: possathorn.nop@gmail.com

The article is available in Chronica Horticulturae

Tags: 
Orchidantha
pollination
Categories: 
Young Minds Award Winners