Volatile Organic Compounds Role in Selective Pollinator Visits to Commercial Melon Types

  •  Nayanny de S. Fernandes    
  •  Francisca Aliny N. Silva    
  •  Fernando A. S. de Aragão    
  •  Guilherme J. Zocolo    
  •  Breno M. Freitas    


Pollination is essential for food production in the world, but in pollinator-dependent crops it relies on the attraction of pollinators to flowers. However, crop varieties vary in their attractiveness to flower visitors and volatile compounds emitted by flowers may play a significant role in attracting or repelling pollinators. Here, we investigated the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in both male and hermaphrodite flowers of five commercial types of melon Cucumis melo (Cantaloupe, Charentais, Galia, Piel de sapo and Yellow), and their role in attracting or repelling Apis mellifera foragers. We found significant variation in the identity and proportion of these chemical compounds produced by both melon types and flower genders and observed significant positive and negative correlations between the amount of D-Limonene and Benzaldehyde (bee attractants) and α-Pinene (bee repellent), respectively, to the number of bee visits to flowers particularly in the Cantaloupe type and hermaphrodite flowers, the most visited ones. Our results suggest that differences in the composition of melon floral VOCs and the proportion of the different compounds play significant role in the number of visits by A. mellifera with possible implications to pollination and fruit yield. It also implies to the perspective of breeding varieties more attractive to pollinators through the selection of flower lines richer in bee-attractant and/or poorer in bee-repellent volatiles.

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