Aristolochia spp. (Aristolochiaceae) pollinated by flies breeding on decomposing flowers in Panama

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This study presents breeding and pollination systems of Aristolochia maxima and A. inflata in a seasonal tropical forest of Panama. Aristolochia is the most diverse genus of Aristolochiaceae, with ∼120 species distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics. All the Aristolochia species studied so far are pollinated by saprophagous flies of different families, which are presumably deceived by floral odor. Flowers of many species have trap-and-release mechanisms. The flowers attract and imprison pollinators during the female stage first day of flowering and release them after anther dehiscence. Pollination systems of A. maxima and A. inflata are different from those of other Aristolochia in lacking trap mechanisms. Furthermore, the pollinators oviposit in the flowers, and their larvae grow on the fallen, decaying flowers on the ground. Therefore, the plants have a mutualistic relationship with their pollinators. Self-compatible A. inflata is pollinated by Megaselia sakaiae (Phoridae, Diptera). The pollinator may be specialized to Aristolochia flowers, which is the only substrate for larval development. On the other hand, self-incompatible A. maxima is pollinated by Drosophila spp. (Drosophilidae, Diptera), which utilize Aristolochia flowers as a breeding site only occasionally. This pollination mutualism might have evolved from deceit pollination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-534
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002


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