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Plant Signal Behav. 2011 Nov;6(11):1820-3. doi: 10.4161/psb.6.11.16980.

The monoterpene limonene in orange peels attracts pests and microorganisms.

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  • 1Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias, Centro de Protección Vegetal y Biotecnología, Valencia, Spain.

Abstract

Plant volatiles include terpenoids, which are generally involved in plant defense, repelling pests and pathogens and attracting insects for herbivore control, pollination and seed dispersal. Orange fruits accumulate the monoterpene limonene at high levels in the oil glands of their fruit peels. When limonene production was downregulated in orange fruits by the transgenic expression of a limonene synthase (CitMTSE1) in the antisense configuration, these fruits were resistant to the fungus Penicillium digitatum (Pers.) Sacc. and the bacterium Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri and were less attractive to the medfly pest Ceratitis capitata. These responses were reversed when the antisense transgenic orange fruits were treated with limonene. To gain more insight into the role of the limonene concentration in fruit responses to pests and pathogens, we attempted to overexpress CitMTSE1 in the sense configuration in transgenic orange fruits. Only slight increases in the amount of limonene were found in sense transgenic fruits, maybe due to the detrimental effect that excessive limonene accumulation would have on plant development. Collectively, these results suggest that when limonene reaches peak levels as the fruit develops, it becomes a signal for pest and pathogen attraction, which facilitate access to the fruit for pulp consumers and seed dispersers.

PMID:
22212123
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3329358
Free PMC Article
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