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Abstract Detail

Systematics Section/ASPT

Mcdaniel, James [1], Cameron, Kenneth [2].

Defining species limits, floral scents, and brood-site pollination in Zootrophion (Orchidaceae).

Within Orchidaceae, the largest, most diverse family of plants, lies subtribe Pleurothallidinae, which contains >4,000 species in 35 genera accounting for 17% of orchid diversity. Most of these genera are native to Neotropical biodiversity “hotspots” such as the Andes, which means they may be at a high risk of extinction due to habitat loss, global climate disruption and low rates of pollination and fruit set. The genus Zootrophion, whose etymology was inspired by the “allusion to the similarity of the flowers to the heads of various animals”, intrigued Darwin long before it was typified by Luer in 1982. Today, 150 years after Darwin’s curiosity was aroused by the permanently fused sepals that only allow insects access to the column through a pair of lateral window-like openings, the reproductive biology of these enigmatic orchids remains a mystery. Our research is currently focused on two main objectives: (1) reconstructing the evolutionary history and (2) documenting the pollination biology of Zootrophion. Species of Zootrophion appear to be monophyletic and closely related, as is typical for orchids native to the geologically young Andes. Preliminary sequence data, including ycf1, obtained from eight Zootrophion species shows low levels of variation and fails to resolve interspecific relationships. Next generation sequencing approaches (e.g., based on targeted sequence capture) may be necessary to unravel species limits within this recently diverged lineage. Superficially these orchids resemble carrion flowers, which has driven us to hypothesize that they are not only pollinated by small insects in search of a brood-site, but may also provide an overnight resting site for pollinators. We base this speculation on Darwin’s discovery of insect eggs within the flowers, as well as the morphology and dark color of the flowers. They may also retain heat. To begin testing this hypothesis, we have collected fragrance samples from Zootrophion endresianum using solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and compared the identified volatiles to volatiles found in fungi based on information provided by the NIST MS Search 2.0 database. Results so far are inconclusive, but future research will focus on collecting fragrance samples from additional species in an attempt to characterize the pollination syndrome of Zootrophion.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - University of Wisconsin - Madison, Botany, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI, 53706, USA
2 - University of Wisconsin, Department of Botany, 154 Birge Hall, 450 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI, 53706, USA

Target Enrichment

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Grand Salon A - D/Riverside Hilton
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PSY062
Abstract ID:555
Candidate for Awards:None

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