Plants synthesize and emit a large variety of volatile organic compounds, with terpenes and fatty-acid derivatives being the dominant classes. Whereas some volatiles are probably common to almost all plants (e.g. C6 aldehydes, alcohols, and esters, as well as acetaldehyde or methanol), others are specific to only a few related taxa like isoprene that is predominately emitted by tree such as oaks and poplars. Isoprene is globally the most important volatile emitted by vegetation influencing atmospheric chemistry, plant fitness and plant-insect interactions. Our current progress in understanding plant volatile functions is due to general advances in biochemical and molecular techniques and to the development of new instrumentation for the analysis of these compounds.
The presentation will introduce some of these techniques and will give an overview on our actual knowledge on the biological and ecological function(s) of isoprene and other herbivore-induced volatiles in oaks and poplar.
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