When should fig fruit produce volatiles? Pattern in a ripening process

  • Borges R
  • Ranganathan Y
  • Krishnan A
 et al. 
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Ripe fruit need to signal their presence to attract dispersal agents. Plants may employ visual and/or olfactory sensory channels to signal the presence of ripe fruit. Visual signals of ripe fruit have been extensively investigated. However, the volatile signatures of ripe fruit that use olfactorily-oriented dispersers have been scarcely investigated. Moreover, as in flowers, where floral scents are produced at times when pollinators are active (diurnal versus nocturnal), whether plants can modulate the olfactory signal to produce fruit odours when dispersers are active in the diel cycle is completely unknown. We investigated day-night differences in fruit odours in two species of figs, Ficus racemosa and Ficus benghalensis. The volatile bouquet of fruit of F. racemosa that are largely dispersed by bats and other mammals was dominated by fatty acid derivatives such as esters. In this species in which the ripe fig phase is very short, and where the figs drop off soon after ripening, there were no differences between day and night in fruit volatile signature. The volatile bouquet of fruit of F. benghalensis that has a long ripening period, however, and that remain attached to the tree for extended periods when ripe, showed an increase in fatty acid derivatives such as esters and of benzenoids such as benzaldehyde at night when they are dispersed by bats, and an elevation of sesquiterpenes during the day when they are dispersed by birds. For the first time we provide data that suggest that the volatile signal produced by fruit can show diel differences based on the activity period of the dispersal agent. © 2011 Elsevier Masson SAS.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Circadian rhythm
  • Diel differences
  • Diurnal rhythm
  • Fruit dispersal syndrome
  • Fruit volatiles
  • Nocturnal rhythm

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  • Renee M. Borges

  • Yuvaraj Ranganathan

  • Anusha Krishnan

  • Mahua Ghara

  • Gautam Pramanik

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