Volatile-Mediated Interactions between Cabbage Plants in the Field and the Impact of Ozone Pollution
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Plants constitutively release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but qualitatively and quantitatively alter their emission of VOCs in response to biotic and abiotic stresses. The blend of VOCs emitted reflects the physiological status of the plant. Plants may be exposed to the VOC blend emitted by their near neighbors and gain information that allows them to adjust their own defenses. These plant-plant interactions may potentially be exploited to protect crops from pests, but they can be disturbed by abiotic factors making the process sensitive to environmental perturbation. Despite numerous studies describing plant-plant interactions, relatively few have been conducted with agriculturally significant cultivated plant varieties under field conditions. Here we studied plant-plant interactions in a conspecific association of Brassica oleracea var. capitata (cabbage) and show that undamaged plants exposed to neighbors damaged by the herbivore Pieris brassicae are primed for stronger volatile emissions upon subsequent herbivore attack. We conducted a field study in an ozone free-air concentration enrichment (FACE) facility with ambient and elevated ozone levels and found that elevated tropospheric ozone significantly alters the priming of VOCs in receiver plants. We conclude that plant-plant interactions may prime defensive attributes of receiver plants under field conditions, but are impaired by ozone pollution. Therefore, when planning the manipulation of plant-plant interactions for agricultural purposes, the potential effects of atmospheric pollutants should be considered.
KeywordsBrassica oleracea Plant volatiles VOCs Plant-plant communication Priming Tropospheric ozone
We thank Timo Oksanen, Marjatta Puurunen and Topi Kuronen for providing technical support. This research was supported by the Academy of Finland decision numbers 256050, 251898 and 283122.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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