Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 113, Issue 1–3, pp 321–333 | Cite as

Green leaf volatiles and oxygenated metabolite emission bursts from mesquite branches following light–dark transitions

  • K. JardineEmail author
  • G. A. Barron-Gafford
  • J. P. Norman
  • L. Abrell
  • R. K. Monson
  • K. T. Meyers
  • M. Pavao-Zuckerman
  • K. Dontsova
  • E. Kleist
  • C. Werner
  • T. E. Huxman
Regular Paper


Green leaf volatiles (GLVs) are a diverse group of fatty acid-derived compounds emitted by all plants and are involved in a wide variety of developmental and stress-related biological functions. Recently, GLV emission bursts from leaves were reported following light–dark transitions and hypothesized to be related to the stress response while acetaldehyde bursts were hypothesized to be due to the ‘pyruvate overflow’ mechanism. In this study, branch emissions of GLVs and a group of oxygenated metabolites (acetaldehyde, ethanol, acetic acid, and acetone) derived from the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) bypass pathway were quantified from mesquite plants following light–dark transitions using a coupled GC–MS, PTR-MS, and photosynthesis system. Within the first minute after darkening following a light period, large emission bursts of both C5 and C6 GLVs dominated by (Z)-3-hexen-1-yl acetate together with the PDH bypass metabolites are reported for the first time. We found that branches exposed to CO2-free air lacked significant GLV and PDH bypass bursts while O2-free atmospheres eliminated the GLV burst but stimulated the PDH bypass burst. A positive relationship was observed between photosynthetic activity prior to darkening and the magnitude of the GLV and PDH bursts. Photosynthesis under 13CO2 resulted in bursts with extensive labeling of acetaldehyde, ethanol, and the acetate but not the C6-alcohol moiety of (Z)-3-hexen-1-yl acetate. Our observations are consistent with (1) the “pyruvate overflow” mechanism with a fast turnover time (<1 h) as part of the PDH bypass pathway, which may contribute to the acetyl-CoA used for the acetate moiety of (Z)-3-hexen-1-yl acetate, and (2) a pool of fatty acids with a slow turnover time (>3 h) responsible for the C6 alcohol moiety of (Z)-3-hexen-1-yl acetate via the 13-lipoxygenase pathway. We conclude that our non-invasive method may provide a new valuable in vivo tool for studies of acetyl-CoA and fatty acid metabolism in plants at a variety of spatial scales.


Green leaf volatiles Pyruvate dehydrogenase bypass Light–dark transitions Photosynthesis Pyruvate overflow 



Funding for J. P. Norman was provided by the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) operated through Biosphere 2. Additional funding for this project came from the Philecology Foundation of Fort Worth, Texas, and instrumentation support (CHE 0216226). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Several of the authors also acknowledge the valuable mentorship of Prof. Charles Barry Osmond.

Supplementary material

11120_2012_9746_MOESM1_ESM.doc (256 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 256 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Jardine
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. A. Barron-Gafford
    • 1
  • J. P. Norman
    • 1
  • L. Abrell
    • 2
    • 3
  • R. K. Monson
    • 4
  • K. T. Meyers
    • 1
  • M. Pavao-Zuckerman
    • 1
  • K. Dontsova
    • 1
  • E. Kleist
    • 5
  • C. Werner
    • 6
  • T. E. Huxman
    • 1
    • 7
  1. 1.The University of Arizona-Biosphere 2TucsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry & BiochemistryUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Soil, Water and Environmental ScienceUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  4. 4.School of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  5. 5.Institut für Chemie und Dynamik der Geosphäre (ICG)JülichGermany
  6. 6.Experimental and Systems EcologyUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  7. 7.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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