Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
Research article
28 Jan 2015
Research article |  | 28 Jan 2015

Impacts of simulated herbivory on volatile organic compound emission profiles from coniferous plants

C. L. Faiola, B. T. Jobson, and T. M. VanReken

Abstract. The largest global source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the atmosphere is from biogenic emissions. Plant stressors associated with a changing environment can alter both the quantity and composition of the compounds that are emitted. This study investigated the effects of one global change stressor, increased herbivory, on plant emissions from five different coniferous species: bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata), blue spruce (Picea pungens), western redcedar (Thuja plicata), grand fir (Abies grandis), and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Herbivory was simulated in the laboratory via exogenous application of methyl jasmonate (MeJA), a herbivory proxy. Gas-phase species were measured continuously with a gas chromatograph coupled to a mass spectrometer and flame ionization detector (GC–MS–FID). Stress responses varied between the different plant types and even between experiments using the same set of saplings. The compounds most frequently impacted by the stress treatment were alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, 1,8-cineol, beta-myrcene, terpinolene, limonene, and the cymene isomers. Individual compounds within a single experiment often exhibited a different response to the treatment from one another.

Short summary
Environmental stresses can have large impacts on the emissions of volatile organic compounds from plants, affecting both the amount and the composition of emissions. In this work we demonstrate the variety of responses among five coniferous trees species to one stress-simulated herbivory. The observed responses would lead to significant changes to the atmospheric chemistry in forested regions, highlighting the continued need for improved understanding of biosphere-atmosphere relationships.
Final-revised paper