Date of Award

12-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Sandra J. Newell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Carl S. Luciano, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David H. Pistole, Ph.D.

Abstract

Species of the Araceae family have extraordinary thermogenic abilities and produce a foul floral odor associated with the pollination syndrome of sapromyophily. Researchers have determined the specific compounds that comprise the floral scents of many thermogenic aroids and are focusing on how different aspects of plant biology affect scent composition and subsequent plant-insect interactions. In this study, I determined the scent composition of the sapromyophilous and thermoregulatory aroid Symplocarpus foetidus using the dynamic headspace sampling technique and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. I found the S. foetidus odor to be dominated by dimethyl disulfide and to contain compounds from other chemical classes. I also addressed the existence of sex differences in the floral scent composition of S. foetidus. I found the floral odors of both male and female skunk cabbage plants to contain dimethyl disulfide, aliphatic hydrocarbons, carboxylic acids, and esters, whereas aromatic hydrocarbons and indole compounds were unique to female plants.

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