Induced volatile terpenes have been commonly reported among diverse agricultural plant species, but less commonly investigated in odorous plant species. Odorous plants synthesize and constitutively store relatively large amounts of volatiles, and these may play a role in defense against herbivores. We examined the effect of herbivory and methyl jasmonate (MeJA) exposure on the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the marsh elder, Iva frutescens, which contains numerous constitutive VOCs, mainly mono- and sesquiterpenes. Our specific goal was to test for the presence of inducible VOCs in a naturally occurring plant already armed with VOCs. The abundant, native specialist leaf beetle Paria aterrima was used in herbivore induction trials. VOCs were sampled from herbivore wounded and unwounded, and from MeJA treated and untreated I. frutescens. Total VOC emissions were significantly greater in response to herbivory and MeJA treatment compared to unwounded controls. Herbivore wounding caused a substantial shift in the emission profile (42 VOCs from wounded, compared to 8 VOCs from unwounded I. frutescens), and MeJA had a similar yet less substantial influence on the emission pattern (28 VOCs from MeJA treated compared to 8 VOCs from untreated I. frutescens). Constitutive VOC emissions predominated, but some VOCs were detected only in response to herbivory and MeJA treatment, suggesting de novo synthesis. Several VOCs exhibited a delayed emission profile in contrast to the rapid release of constitutive VOCs, and principal components analysis revealed they were not associated with constitutive emissions. While I. frutescens contains many constitutive VOCs that are released immediately in response to herbivory, it also produces novel VOCs in response to feeding by the specialist P. aterrima and MeJA treatment.
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We thank the Belle W. Baruch Institute for access to the field site. Special thanks to Dr. Min Wang and Dr. Randi Hansen for their assistance with transplanting of I. frutescens.
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Degenhardt, D.C., Lincoln, D.E. Volatile Emissions from an Odorous Plant in Response to Herbivory and Methyl Jasmonate Exposure. J Chem Ecol 32, 725–743 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-006-9030-2
- Iva frutescens
- Paria aterrima
- Methyl jasmonate
- Volatile emission
- Plant defense
- Constitutive defense
- Induced defense