A dual function for 4-methoxybenzaldehyde in $\textit{Petasites fragrans}$? Pollinator-attractant and ant-repellent

17 Jul 2017

Ant-repellent floral volatiles offer one method through which plants can mediate the detrimental effects of ants on flowers. Although the repellence itself is well documented, the volatiles involved are less well explored. Here, we investigated the floral bouquet of ant-repellent male flowers of $\textit{Petasites fragrans}$, identifying 4-methoxybenzaldehyde as the main component. 4-methoxybenzaldehyde significantly repelled ants when presented in isolation in an olfactometer and thus is the likely source of the repellent effect. As 4-methoxybenzaldehyde has previously been shown to attract pollinators, it may therefore have a dual function in $\textit{P. fragrans}$, pollinator-attractant and ant-repellent. Additionally, 4-methoxybenzaldehyde is particularly interesting as an ant-repellent as it has been observed in the bouquets of other plant species with specific ant interactions.