Flower discrimination by pollinators in a dynamic chemical environment

Jeffrey A. Riffell, Eli Shlizerman, Elischa Sanders, Leif Abrell, Billie Medina, Armin J. Hinterwirth, J. Nathan Kutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Pollinators use their sense of smell to locate flowers from long distances, but little is known about how they are able to discriminate their target odor from a ḿlange of other natural and anthropogenic odors. Here, we measured the plume from Datura wrightii flowers, a nectar resource for Manduca sexta moths, and show that the scent was dynamic and rapidly embedded among background odors. The moth's ability to track the odor was dependent on the background and odor frequency. By influencing the balance of excitation and inhibition in the antennal lobe, background odors altered the neuronal representation of the target odor and the ability of the moth to track the plume. These results show that the mix of odors present in the environment influences the pollinator's olfactory ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1515-1518
Number of pages4
Issue number6191
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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