Scientists have described the Aristolochia microstoma plant. It mimics the smell of decaying insects. Due to this, it attracts cadaveric flies, which pollinate its flowers.
In a new study, biologists have described an interesting mechanism of self-pollination in a plant of the species Aristolochia microstoma. It releases a mixture of volatiles containing alkylpyrazines. In general, plants rarely emit these substances in nature. Alkylpyrazines themselves are also released during the decomposition of dead insects. Therefore, the smell of these substances attracts cadaveric flies from the genus Megaselia. They feed on carrion.
Once in a flower, flies begin to lay eggs there. However, at the same time, they fall into the trap of the plant, which prevents them from flying away. To get out of it, flies need to transfer pollen to the stigma of the pistil. Only then will the flower open and the insects will gain freedom.
Between 4 and 6% of flowering plants use a “deceptive pollination strategy”: they use smell and color to attract pollinating insects. Deceptive pollination is common in many orchids, but it has also developed independently in other plants, including the genus Aristolochia.