JOURNAL ARTICLE

Aboveground and Belowground Herbivores Synergistically Induce Volatile Organic Sulfur Compound Emissions from Shoots but Not from Roots

Holger Danner, Phil Brown, Eric A Cator, Frans J M Harren, Nicole M van Dam, Simona M Cristescu
Journal of Chemical Ecology 2015, 41 (7): 631-40
26195194
Studies on aboveground (AG) plant organs have shown that volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions differ between simultaneous attack by herbivores and single herbivore attack. There is growing evidence that interactive effects of simultaneous herbivory also occur across the root-shoot interface. In our study, Brassica rapa roots were infested with root fly larvae (Delia radicum) and the shoots infested with Pieris brassicae, either singly or simultaneously, to study these root-shoot interactions. As an analytical platform, we used Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) to investigate VOCs over a 3 day time period. Our set-up allowed us to monitor root and shoot emissions concurrently on the same plant. Focus was placed on the sulfur-containing compounds; methanethiol, dimethylsulfide (DMS), and dimethyldisulfide (DMDS), because these compounds previously have been shown to be biologically active in the interactions of Brassica plants, herbivores, parasitoids, and predators, yet have received relatively little attention. The shoots of plants simultaneously infested with AG and belowground (BG) herbivores emitted higher levels of sulfur-containing compounds than plants with a single herbivore species present. In contrast, the emission of sulfur VOCs from the plant roots increased as a consequence of root herbivory, independent of the presence of an AG herbivore. The onset of root emissions was more rapid after damage than the onset of shoot emissions. The shoots of double infested plants also emitted higher levels of methanol. Thus, interactive effects of root and shoot herbivores exhibit more strongly in the VOC emissions from the shoots than from the roots, implying the involvement of specific signaling interactions.

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