Deceptive orchids

July 4, 2012

The Column

The Column, The Column-07-04-2012, Volume 8, Issue 12
Page Number: 11

A team of researchers from Australia has conducted a study into the way in which Drakaea livida (Orchidaceae) is pollinated.

A team of researchers from Australia has conducted a study into the way in which Drakaea livida (Orchidaceae) is pollinated.1

They discovered that the orchid specie deceives the wasp Zaspilothynnus nigripes (Thynnidae) by emitting the same compound, 2-hydroxymethyl-3-(3-methylbutyl)-5-methylpyrazine, that females emit when searching for mates. Gas chromatography–electroantennographic detection (GC–EAD) and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) were used to isolate this novel pyrazine. The main chemical compounds were separated and identified in the mixture.

The team concluded that this compound may represent the first known case of pyrazines as sex pheromones in Hymenoptera insects.

1. R.A. Barrow et al., Org Lett., 14(10), 2576–2578 (2012).

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.

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