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2‑(Tetrahydrofuran-2-yl)acetic Acid and Ester Derivatives as Long-Range Pollinator Attractants in the Sexually Deceptive Orchid Cryptostylis ovata

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journal contribution
posted on 28.03.2019, 13:51 by Björn Bohman, Alyssa M. Weinstein, Ryan D. Phillips, Rod Peakall, Gavin R. Flematti
Sexually deceptive orchids achieve pollination by luring male insects to flowers through chemical and sometimes visual mimicry of females. An extreme example of this deception occurs in Cryptostylis, one of only two genera where sexual deception is known to induce pollinator ejaculation. In the present study, bioassay-guided fractionations of Cryptostylis solvent extracts in combination with field bioassays were implemented to isolate and identify floral volatiles attractive to the pollinator Lissopimpla excelsa. (S)-2-(Tetrahydrofuran-2-yl)­acetic acid [(S)-1] and the ester derivatives methyl (S)-2-(tetrahydrofuran-2-yl)­acetate [(S)-2] and ethyl (S)-2-(tetrahydrofuran-2-yl)­acetate [(S)-3], all previously unknown semiochemicals, were confirmed to attract L. excelsa males in field bioassays. Chiral-phase GC and HPLC showed that the natural product 1 comprised a single enantiomer, its S-configuration being confirmed by synthesis of the two enantiomers from known enantiomers of tetrahydrofuran-2-carboxylic acid.