Skip to main content
Dryad logo

The evolution of sexual signaling is linked to odorant receptor tuning in perfume-collecting orchid bees


Brand, Philipp et al. (2020), The evolution of sexual signaling is linked to odorant receptor tuning in perfume-collecting orchid bees, Dryad, Dataset,


Sexual signaling is an important reproductive barrier known to evolve early during the formation of new species, but the genetic mechanisms that facilitate the divergence of sexual signals remain elusive. Here we isolate a gene linked to the rapid evolution of a signaling trait in a pair of nascent neotropical orchid bee lineages, Euglossa dilemma and E. viridissima. Male orchid bees acquire chemical compounds from their environment to concoct species-specific perfumes to later expose during courtship. We found that the two lineages acquire chemically distinct perfumes and are reproductively isolated despite low levels of genome-wide differentiation. Remarkably, variation in perfume chemistry coincides with rapid divergence in few odorant receptor (OR) genes. Using functional assays, we demonstrate that the derived variant of Or41 in E. dilemma is specific towards its species-specific major perfume compound, whereas the ancestral variant in E. viridissima is broadly tuned to multiple odorants. Our results show that OR evolution likely played a role in the divergence of sexual communication in natural populations.

Usage Notes

The deposited data represents raw data files used for 1) chemical analysis of perfume chemistry and 2) morphometric analysis of mandible morphology in a comparative approach of the two sibling orchid bee species Euglossa dilemma and E. viridissima.

1. All tar.gz files beginning with a "PB", "SR", or CLY" (these are unique specimen IDs) are gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GCMS) data files of the perfume of the male indicated by the unique specimen id. These are raw data files including chromatograms and mass spectrums for each peak and can be opened with any standard GCMS analysis software. More information about the origin of the individuals can be found in the open access publication, specifically Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary Data 1.

2. The mandible files are taken from male bees. Individual specimen IDs are indicated for each file.