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Cereal crop volatile organic compound induction after mechanical injury, beetle herbivory (Oulema spp.), or fungal infection (Fusarium spp.)

Piesik, Dariusz, Pańka, Dariusz, Delaney, Kevin J., Skoczek, Agata, Lamparski, Robert, Weaver, David K.
Journal of plant physiology 2011 v.168 no.9 pp. 878
Fusarium, Oulema, acetates, barley, fungi, grain crops, grasses, herbivores, insects, leaves, mechanical damage, oats, oxides, pathogens, stems, terpenoids, volatile organic compounds, wheat
Herbivory, mechanical injury or pathogen infestation to vegetative tissues can induce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) production, which can provide defensive functions to injured and uninjured plants. In our studies with ‘McNeal’ wheat, ‘Otana’ oat, and ‘Harrington’ barley, plants that were mechanically injured, attacked by either of two Oulema spp. (melanopus or cyanella) beetles, or infected by one of the three Fusarium spp. (graminearum, avenaceum, or culmorum), had significant VOC induction compared to undamaged plants. Mechanical injury to the main stem or one leaf caused the induction of one green leaf volatile (GLV) – (Z)-3-hexenol, and three terpenes (β-linalool, β-caryophyllene, and α-pinene) with all three grasses; wheat and barley also showed β-linalool oxide induction. The blend of induced VOCs after Fusarium spp. infestation or Oulema spp. herbivory was dominated by GLVs ((Z)-3-hexenal, (E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-hexenol, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, and 1-hexenyl acetate) and β-linalool and β-caryophyllene; beetle herbivory also induced (E)-β-farnesene. Different ratios of individual VOCs were induced between the two Oulema spp. for each cereal grass and different ratios across the three cereals for each beetle species. Also, different ratios of individual VOCs were induced between the three Fusarium spp. for each cereal grass and different ratios across the three cereals for each fungal pathogen species. Our results are preliminary since we could not simultaneously measure VOC induction from controls with each of the ten different injury treatments for each of the three cereals. However, the comparison of mechanical injury, insect herbivory, and fungal infection has not been previously examined with VOC responses from three different plant species within the same family. Also, our work suggests large qualitative and quantitative overlap of VOC induction from plants of all three cereals having beetle herbivory injury when compared to infection injury from necrotrophic fungal pathogens.