What makes mosquitoes attracted to Platanthera orchids

Meeting Abstract

P1-122  Monday, Jan. 4 15:30  What makes mosquitoes attracted to Platanthera orchids? LAHONDÈRE, C.*; VINAUGER, C.; OKUBO, R.; RIFFELL, J.A.; University of Washington; University of Washington; University of Washington; University of Washington lahonder@uw.edu

Female mosquitoes not only feed on blood to produce eggs but they also use carbohydrates to sustain their metabolism. In nature, flowers provide a good source of carbohydrates and some plants such as Platanthera orchids take advantage of these visitors to get pollinated by the mosquitoes during their nectar intake. Although several observations have been made of mosquitoes pollinating these bog orchids, the signals used by the plant to attract both male and female mosquitoes remain unknown. We first performed non-destructive headspace volatile collections in the field to study the scent of several Plathantera species, and analyzed these scent samples using Gas-Chromatography coupled with Mass-Spectrometry (GC-MS). Adult mosquitoes of different species and some of them carrying pollinia were also caught and identified in field sites where orchids were present. Then, using Electro-Antennogram coupled with Gas-Chromatography (GC-EAG), we evaluated to which specific compounds from the orchid scents the mosquitoes are responding to. Delivering pulses of specific chemicals (EAGs) to the mosquitoes also provided a better understanding of the way orchids attract and use the mosquitoes to get pollinated. Interspecific differences among orchid species and mosquito species will be discussed.

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