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New Phytol. 2013 Jan;197(1):36-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04382.x. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Fruit aromas in mature fleshy fruits as signals of readiness for predation and seed dispersal.

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Centro de Protección Vegetal y Biotecnología, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias, Carretera Moncada-Náquera, Km. 4.5, 46113 Moncada, Valencia, Spain.


The dispersal of seeds away from parent plants seems to be the underlying selective force in the evolution of fleshy fruits attractive to animals. Secondary metabolites, which are not essential compounds for plant survival, are involved in the interaction of fleshy fruits with seed dispersers and antagonists. Plant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are secondary metabolites that play important roles in biotic interactions and in abiotic stress responses. They are usually accumulated at high levels in specific plant tissues and organs, such as fleshy fruits. The study of VOCs emitted during fruit development and after different biotic challenges may help to determine the interactions of fleshy fruits not only with legitimate vertebrate dispersers, but also with insects and microorganisms. A knowledge of fruit VOCs could be used in agriculture to generate attraction or repellency to pests and resistance to pathogens in fruits. This review provides an examination of specific fruit VOC blends as signals for either seed dispersal or predation through simple or complex trophic chains, which may also have consequences for an understanding of the importance of biodiversity in wild areas.

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