Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 305, Issue 9, pp 727–741 | Cite as

Interspecific variation of inflorescence scents and insect visitors in Allium (Amaryllidaceae: Allioideae)

  • Pietro ZitoEmail author
  • Francesca Tavella
  • Davide Pacifico
  • Viviana Campanella
  • Maurizio Sajeva
  • Francesco Carimi
  • Andreas W. Ebmer
  • Stefan Dötterl
Original Article


Allium is a large monocotyledonous genus, with many species of high economic importance. Knowledge of the pollination biology and the chemical ecology of pollination in this genus is far from being complete. We studied flower visitors of some Allium species in their native habitat and how these interaction partners communicate by olfactory cues. Floral volatiles of five Mediterranean species were investigated by dynamic headspace and thermal desorption-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Floral visitors were observed and captured. The physiological activity of scent components in antennae of flower visitors and congeneric species was tested by gas chromatographic/electroantennographic detections. In the scent samples of the five species, 36 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were detected. The species-specific scent profiles were dominated either by one or two aromatic compounds, or by a monoterpene. We recorded several insects on the flowers/inflorescences of the different Allium species, mainly bees and flies, with only a few visitor taxa shared among the studied species. In the physiological measurements, specific/congeneric visitors did not only respond to VOCs of the species they visited, but also to VOCs of species on which they were not recorded. Our study shows that inflorescence scent and visitor patterns do not correlate, and that although single visitors detected compounds of various Allium species, there was only a limited overlap in visitor spectrum among the species. Our study also adds several compounds to the list of floral scents being EAD-active in bees and flies.


Apis Eristalis GC/EAD GC/MS Lasioglossum Pollination 



We thank Dr. Irmgard Schäffler for supporting the scent analyses and for constructive discussions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

606_2019_1601_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (135 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 135 kb)
606_2019_1601_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (292 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 292 kb)
606_2019_1601_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (338 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 338 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and TechnologiesUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources, Division of PalermoNational Research Council of ItalyPalermoItaly
  3. 3.PuchenauAustria
  4. 4.Department of BiosciencesParis Lodron University of SalzburgSalzburgAustria

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