J Syst Evol ›› 2023, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (3): 454-464.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12908

• Research Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Selection to attract pollinators and to confuse antagonists specializes fig-pollinator chemical communications

Yang Yang1, Yuan-Ye Zhang2, Yu Zhang1, Shan Chen1, Qian-Ya Li1, Rong Wang1,3,4*, and Xiao-Yong Chen1,3,4*   

  1. 1 Zhejiang Tiantong Forest Ecosystem National Observation and Research Station, Shanghai Key Laboratory for Urban Ecological Processes and Eco-Restoration, School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2 Key Laboratory of the Ministry of Education for Coastal and Wetland Ecosystems, College of the Environment and Ecology, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361102, Fujian, China
    3 Shanghai Institute of Pollution Control and Ecological Security, Shanghai 200092, China
    4 Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Sustainable Plant Innovation, Shanghai 200231, China
    *Authors for correspondence. Rong Wang. E-mail:rwang@des.ecnu.edu.cn;Xiao-Yong Chen. E-mail:xychen@des.ecnu.edu.cn
  • Received:2022-05-27 Revised:2022-08-03 Online:2022-08-03 Published:2023-05-01

Abstract: Chemical communication is critical in establishing angiosperm-pollinator mutualisms. However, our understanding of how chemical communication shapes coevolution remains limited. Here, we integrated information theory to model three coevolutionary scenarios (I?III), where the pollinator fitness is always optimized by the highest certainty of chemical information provided by plants, but plant fitness is determined by (I) the certainty of chemical information attracting pollinators, (II) the uncertainty of chemical information confusing antagonists, or (III) both aspects. We found that the statistical properties of empirical plant volatiles from 45 pairs of fig-pollinator mutualisms were best explained by the selection from both pollinators and antagonists (scenario III). Under this scenario, plant-pollinator mutualisms evolve to be specialized and as few as two volatile chemicals could supply sufficient information for pollinators’ host identification. Our study provides new insights into plant-pollinator coevolution and will facilitate further studies on the evolution and diversification in specialized plant-pollinator-herbivore systems.

Key words: coevolution, conditional entropy, fig-pollinator mutualism, fitness, information theory, mutual information, plant-insect interaction