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Green leaf volatiles protect maize (Zea mays) seedlings against damage from cold stress

Cofer, Tristan M., Engelberth, Marie, Engelberth, Jurgen
Plant, cell and environment 2018 v.41 no.7 pp. 1673-1682
Zea mays, acetates, cold stress, corn, gene expression regulation, genes, leaves, pathogens, phytophagous insects, seedlings, volatile organic compounds
Although considerable evidence has accumulated on the defensive activity of plant volatile organic compounds against pathogens and insect herbivores, less is known about the significance of volatile organic compounds emitted by plants under abiotic stress. Here, we report that green leaf volatiles (GLVs), which were previously shown to prime plant defences against insect herbivore attack, also protect plants against cold stress (4 °C). We show that the expression levels of several cold stress‐related genes are significantly up‐regulated in maize (Zea mays) seedlings treated with physiological concentrations of the GLV, (Z)‐3‐hexen‐1‐yl acetate (Z‐3‐HAC), and that seedlings primed with Z‐3‐HAC exhibit increased growth and reduced damage after cold stress relative to unprimed seedlings. Together, these data demonstrate the protective and priming effect of GLVs against cold stress and suggest an activity of GLVs beyond the activation of typical plant defence responses against herbivores and pathogens.