Molecular and Pathway Controls on Biogenic Volatile Organic Compound Emissions

  • Ziru Li
  • Thomas D. Sharkey
Part of the Tree Physiology book series (TREE, volume 5)


Plants make a number of volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), many of which are emitted in a light- and temperature-dependent manner. The vast majority of these BVOCs are isoprenoids including isoprene, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. The total BVOC flux into the atmosphere is on the order of a petagram (1015 g) and has multiple effects on atmospheric chemistry. Understanding the biochemical and molecular regulation of BVOC emissions allows us to build prediction models that better reflect the underlying physiological and biochemical processes. In this chapter we review the enzymes and pathways involved in the biosynthesis of various BVOCs that originate from plants, using isoprene as a model. The biochemical and molecular control of BVOC emission in response to short-term environment drivers such as temperature, light, CO2, and O2, and long-term factors such as circadian, seasonal, and developmental effects are discussed. An emerging theme in the regulation of isoprene emission is that the enzyme isoprene synthase controls the basal emission rate in the long term, while the responses of isoprene emission to short-term factors are regulated by levels of the substrate (dimethylallyl diphosphate), which is in turn determined by upstream enzymes. In addition, we propose a new hypothesis to explain the high-CO2 suppression of isoprene emission. At high CO2 concentrations, a high cytosolic inorganic phosphate (Pi) gradient needed to transport triose phosphates out of the chloroplasts could work against the transport of phosphoenol pyruvate into the chloroplasts. This altered partitioning of phosphoenol pyruvate would then reduce the supply of pyruvate into the MEP pathway. Much work is still needed to understand the CO2 response of BVOC emissions but we expect to see significant progress in the near future.


Farnesyl Diphosphate Isoprene Emission Biogenic Volatile Organic Compound Geranyl Diphosphate Biogenic Volatile Organic Compound Emission 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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