Floral scent constitutes an ancient and important channel of communication between flowering plants, their pollinators, and enemies. Fragrance is a highly complex component of floral phenotype, with dynamic patterns of emission and chemical composition. The information content of specific volatile compounds is highly context dependent, and scent can function in direct and indirect ways from landscape to intrafloral scales. Floral scent promotes specialization in plant–pollinator relationships through private channels of unusual compounds, unique ratios of more widespread compounds, or through multicomponent floral filters. Floral scent also promotes outcrossing and reproductive isolation through floral constancy, via appetitive conditioning and discrimination on the basis of diverse mechanisms, including pheromone mimicry, odor intensity, complexity, composition, and synergy with visual stimuli. Finally, floral scent is a sexual signal and should be subject to the same selective pressures and modes of signal evolution as animal display, including signal honesty, sensory drive, and sensory exploitation.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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