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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;739:17-31. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-1704-0_2.

Molecular plant volatile communication.

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Department of Environmental Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Campus, Kuopio, Finland.


Plants produce a wide array of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which have multiple functions as internal plant hormones (e.g., ethylene, methyl jasmonate and methyl salicylate), in communication with conspecific and heterospecific plants and in communication with organisms of second (herbivores and pollinators) and third (enemies of herbivores) trophic levels. Species specific VOCs normally repel polyphagous herbivores and those specialised on other plant species, but may attract specialist herbivores and their natural enemies, which use VOCs as host location cues. Attraction of predators and parasitoids by VOCs is considered an evolved indirect defence, whereby plants are able to indirectly reduce biotic stress caused by damaging herbivores. In this chapter we review these interactions where VOCs are known to play a crucial role. We then discuss the importance of volatile communication in self and nonself detection. VOCs are suggested to appear in soil ecosystems where distinction of own roots from neighbours roots is essential to optimise root growth, but limited evidence of above-ground plant self-recognition is available.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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