, Volume 220, Issue 6, pp 900–909 | Cite as

(Z)-3-Hexenol induces defense genes and downstream metabolites in maize

  • Mohamed A. Farag
  • Mohamed Fokar
  • Haggag Abd
  • Huiming Zhang
  • Randy D. Allen
  • Paul W. Paré
Original Article


In response to insect feeding, corn plants (Zea mays cv. Delprim) release elevated levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including the C6-volatile (Z)-3-hexenol. The level of mRNA accumulation for a series of defense genes was monitored in response to application of (Z)-3-hexenol (50 nmol) to undamaged plants. The induction of transcripts for hpl (hydroperoxide lyase), fps (farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase), pal (phenylalanine ammonia-lyase), lox (lipoxygenase), igl (indole-3-glycerol phosphate lyase) and mpi (maize proteinase inhibitor) were compared with metabolites generated from the respective pathways. While headspace VOC analysis showed an increase in (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate and methyl salicylate with lox and pal induction, respectively, MPI accumulation was not observed with an increase in mpi transcripts. Moreover, (Z)-3-hexenol treatment did not elevate sesquiterpene emissions or activate fps transcription. Chemical labeling and bioassay experiments established that exogenous (Z)-3-hexenol can be taken up and converted to a less active acetylated form. These data indicate that (Z)-3-hexenol can serve as a signaling molecule that triggers defense responses in maize and can rapidly be turned over in planta.


C6-volatiles (Z)-3-Hexenol Methyl jasmonate Terpenes Volatile organic compounds Zea 



Beet armyworm


Farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase


Glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase, cytosolic form


Hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase


Hydroperoxide lyase


Indole-3-glycerol phosphate lyase




Methyl jasmonate


Methyl salicylate


Maize proteinase inhibitor


Phenylalanine ammonia lyase


Volatile organic compound



We thank Blanca San Segundo for kindly providing the MPI antibody. This work was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (grant no. 35320-9378), by the Herman Frasch Foundation for Chemical Research, and by the Robert A. Welch Foundation (grant no. D-478).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohamed A. Farag
    • 1
  • Mohamed Fokar
    • 2
  • Haggag Abd
    • 2
  • Huiming Zhang
    • 1
  • Randy D. Allen
    • 2
  • Paul W. Paré
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry & BiochemistryTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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