Evidence that plants can respond to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was first presented 35 years ago. Since then, over 40 VOCs have been found to induce plant responses. These include VOCs that are produced not only by plants but also by microbes and insects. Here, we summarize what is known about how these VOCs are produced and how plants detect and respond to them. In doing so, we highlight notable observations we believe are worth greater consideration. For example, the VOCs that induce plant responses appear to have little in common. They are derived from many different biosynthetic pathways and have few distinguishing chemical or structural features. Likewise, plants appear to use several mechanisms to detect VOCs rather than a single dedicated "olfactory" system. Considering these observations, we advocate for more discovery-oriented experiments and propose that future research take a fresh look at the ways plants detect and respond to VOCs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)