Fruit Scent: Biochemistry, Ecological Function, and Evolution

  • Omer NevoEmail author
  • Manfred Ayasse
Reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


Fruit scent plays an important role in human preference and has thus been studied primarily in the context of agricultural science. In wild species, fruit scent has long been speculated to play a role in mediating the mutualistic interaction between plants and fruit-eating animals that disperse their seeds. Yet until recently, empirical studies addressing this hypothesis have been all but absent. Studies in the past decade emphasized the ecological role of fruit scent as an animal attractant, as well as its evolution as a ripeness signal. But data are still limited and many questions remain open. This chapter summarizes recent developments in the study of the chemical ecology and evolution of wild fruit scent. It explores the chemistry and biochemistry of fruit scent, its use by various important seed dispersal vectors, its evolution, and other functions it may fulfill. We end with recommendation for future studies, in the hope that the next decade will be at least as fruitful as the previous one.


Co-evolution Constraints Frugivory Mutualism Odor Olfaction Seed dispersal Sense of smell 



ON was funded by the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; grant nr. 2156/1-1) while working on this chapter. Dr. Kim Valenta and Prof. Colin A. Chapman were heavily involved in data collection in Uganda, which was used for some of the unpublished results cited here.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation GenomicsUlm UniversityUlmGermany

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