Nutrient-rich plants emit a less intense blend of volatile isoprenoids

Fernández-Martínez M., Llusià J., Filella I., Niinemets Ü., Arneth A., Wright I.J., Loreto F., Peñuelas J. (2018) Nutrient-rich plants emit a less intense blend of volatile isoprenoids. New Phytologist. 220: 773-784.
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Doi: 10.1111/nph.14889

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The emission of isoprenoids (e.g. isoprene and monoterpenes) by plants plays an important defensive role against biotic and abiotic stresses. Little is known, however, about the functional traits linked to species-specific variability in the types and rates of isoprenoids emitted and about possible co-evolution of functional traits with isoprenoid emission type (isoprene emitter, monoterpene emitter or both). We combined data for isoprene and monoterpene emission rates per unit dry mass with key functional traits (foliar nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations, and leaf mass per area) and climate for 113 plant species, covering the boreal, wet temperate, Mediterranean and tropical biomes. Foliar N was positively correlated with isoprene emission, and foliar P was negatively correlated with both isoprene and monoterpene emission rate. Nonemitting plants generally had the highest nutrient concentrations, and those storing monoterpenes had the lowest concentrations. Our phylogenetic analyses found that the type of isoprenoid emission followed an adaptive, rather than a random model of evolution. Evolution of isoprenoids may be linked to nutrient availability. Foliar N and P are good predictors of the type of isoprenoid emission and the rate at which monoterpenes, and to a lesser extent isoprene, are emitted. © 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust

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β-Ocimene, a Key Floral and Foliar Volatile Involved in Multiple Interactions between Plants and Other Organisms

Farré-Armengol G., Filella I., Llusià J., Peñuelas J. (2017) β-Ocimene, a Key Floral and Foliar Volatile Involved in Multiple Interactions between Plants and Other Organisms. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 22: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.3390/molecules22071148

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β-Ocimene is a very common plant volatile released in important amounts from the leaves and flowers of many plant species. This acyclic monoterpene can play several biological functions in plants, by potentially affecting floral visitors and also by mediating defensive responses to herbivory. The ubiquity and high relative abundance of β-ocimene in the floral scents of species from most plant families and from different pollination syndromes (ranging from generalism to specialism) strongly suggest that this terpenoid may play an important role in the attraction of pollinators to flowers. We compiled abundant evidence from published studies that supports β-ocimene as a generalist attractant of a wide spectrum of pollinators. We found no studies testing behavioural responses of pollinators to β-ocimene, that could directly demonstrate or deny the function of β-ocimene in pollinator attraction; but several case studies support that the emissions of β-ocimene in flowers of different species follow marked temporal and spatial patterns of emission, which are typical from floral volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions that are involved in pollinator attraction. Furthermore, important β-ocimene emissions are induced from vegetative plant tissues after herbivory in many species, which have relevant functions in the establishment of tritrophic interactions. We thus conclude that β-ocimene is a key plant volatile with multiple relevant functions in plants, depending on the organ and the time of emission. Experimental behavioural studies on pure β-ocimene conducted with pollinating insects will be necessary to prove the assumptions made here.

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Shifts in plant foliar and floral metabolomes in response to the suppression of the associated microbiota

Gargallo-Garriga A., Sardans J., Pérez-Trujillo M., Guenther A., Llusià J., Rico L., Terradas J., Farré-Armengol G., Filella I., Parella T., Peñuelas J. (2016) Shifts in plant foliar and floral metabolomes in response to the suppression of the associated microbiota. BMC Plant Biology. 16: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1186/s12870-016-0767-7

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Background: The phyllospheric microbiota is assumed to play a key role in the metabolism of host plants. Its role in determining the epiphytic and internal plant metabolome, however, remains to be investigated. We analyzed the Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) profiles of the epiphytic and internal metabolomes of the leaves and flowers of Sambucus nigra with and without external antibiotic treatment application. Results: The epiphytic metabolism showed a degree of complexity similar to that of the plant organs. The suppression of microbial communities by topical applications of antibiotics had a greater impact on the epiphytic metabolome than on the internal metabolomes of the plant organs, although even the latter changed significantly both in leaves and flowers. The application of antibiotics decreased the concentration of lactate in both epiphytic and organ metabolomes, and the concentrations of citraconic acid, acetyl-CoA, isoleucine, and several secondary compounds such as terpenes and phenols in the epiphytic extracts. The metabolite pyrogallol appeared in the floral epiphytic community only after the treatment. The concentrations of the amino acid precursors of the ketoglutarate-synthesis pathway tended to decrease in the leaves and to increase in the foliar epiphytic extracts. Conclusions: These results suggest that anaerobic and/or facultative anaerobic bacteria were present in high numbers in the phyllosphere and in the apoplasts of S. nigra. The results also show that microbial communities play a significant role in the metabolomes of plant organs and could have more complex and frequent mutualistic, saprophytic, and/or parasitic relationships with internal plant metabolism than currently assumed. © 2016 Gargallo-Garriga et al.

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Optimum temperature for floral terpene emissions tracks the mean temperature of the flowering season

Farre-Armengol G., Filella I., Llusia J., Niinemets U., Penuelas J. (2015) Optimum temperature for floral terpene emissions tracks the mean temperature of the flowering season. Functional Plant Biology. 42: 851-857.
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Doi: 10.1071/FP14279

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Emissions of volatiles from leaves exhibit temperature dependence on maximums, but the optimum temperatures for the release of floral volatiles and the mechanism(s) of optimising these emissions have not been determined. We hypothesised that flowers have an optimum temperature for the emission of volatiles and, because the period of flowering varies highly among species, that this optimum is adapted to the temperatures prevailing during flowering. To test these hypotheses, we characterised the temperature responses of floral terpene emissions of diverse widespread Mediterranean plant species flowering in different seasons by using dynamic headspace sampling and analysis with GC-MS. The floral emissions of terpenes across species exhibited maximums at the temperatures corresponding to the season of flowering, with the lowest optimal temperatures observed in winter-flowering and the highest in summer-flowering species. These trends were valid for emissions of both total terpenes and the various terpene compounds. The results show that the optimum temperature of floral volatile emissions scales with temperature at flowering, and suggest that this scaling is the outcome of physiological adaptations of the biosynthetic or emission mechanisms of flowers. © CSIRO 2015.

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Relationships among floral VOC emissions, floral rewards and visits of pollinators in five plant species of a Mediterranean shrubland

Farre-Armengol G., Filella I., Llusia J., Penuelas J. (2015) Relationships among floral VOC emissions, floral rewards and visits of pollinators in five plant species of a Mediterranean shrubland. Plant Ecology and Evolution. 148: 90-99.
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Doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2015.963

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Background and aims–In plant-pollinator communities seasonal changes in the abundance of pollinators lead to seasonal changes in competition among flowering plants for their services. Here we address the following question: Do flowers of a given species produce more olfactory signals (emissions of volatile compounds) and rewards (nectar and pollen) during the phase(s) of the flowering period within which they have to maximally compete with the signals and rewards of other co-flowering species in the community, compared to the amount of signals and rewards produced during the period(s) with less floral competition? Methods–We analysed the floral emission rates of biogenic volatile organic compounds by gas chromatography and proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry, the visitation rates of pollinators, and the availability of nectar and pollen during the flowering periods of five species to test whether floral rewards and signals would decrease with an increase in pollinator visitation rates during late spring and early summer, i.e. coinciding with decreasing competitive pressure for the services of pollinators. Key results–The results indicate that phenological patterns in the production of rewards are only present at the species level in those species with long flowering periods or with matching periods of changes in pollinator populations. The capacity of emitting isoprenoids and oxidised volatile organic compounds, however, did not present significant patterns during the flowering period in any of the five species studied. Conclusions–The results support the hypothesis of a decreasing competitive pressure for the attraction of pollinators that may drive a decrease in floral investment in rewards but not an accompanying decrease of the capacity of emitting volatile olfactory signals in a species with long flowering period. However, the negative correlation between nectar production and visitation rates may be reinforced by the opposite responses of these variables to climatic conditions. This fact makes difficult to discern possible evolutionary forces tending to decrease rewards from plastic responses to changing environmental conditions in that part of the flowering period in which pollinator visitation rates are higher. © 2015 Botanic Garden Meise and Royal Botanical Society of Belgium.

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Pollination mode determines floral scent

Farre-Armengol G., Filella I., Llusia J., Penuelas J. (2015) Pollination mode determines floral scent. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 61: 44-53.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.bse.2015.05.007

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The main objective of this study is to determine if the pollination vector influences the potential floral emissions of flowering plants. We hypothesized that flowers pollinated by insects would emit significantly higher amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and would present a higher diversity of these compounds than flowers pollinated by wind. The floral emissions of fifteen entomophilous species and eleven anemophilous species were captured by dynamic headspace sampling under field conditions and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. We searched for differences in the emission profiles between anemophilous and entomophilous flowers by considering the effects of phylogeny in our analysis. The floral emissions from the two groups were significantly different. Entomophilous species presented highly diverse emissions in both magnitude of emission rates and richness of compounds depending on the species, but overall, the flowers from entomophilous species had much higher VOC emission rates and VOC richness, both for terpenes and benzenoid compounds, than those from anemophilous species (two orders of magnitude higher emissions). The data thus confirm that the presence of intensely scented flowers with complex scents is strongly related to biotic pollination. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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Ozone degrades floral scent and reduces pollinator attraction to flowers

Farre-Armengol G., Penuelas J., Li T., Yli-Pirila P., Filella I., Llusia J., Blande J.D. (2015) Ozone degrades floral scent and reduces pollinator attraction to flowers. New Phytologist. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/nph.13620

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In this work we analyzed the degradation of floral scent volatiles from Brassica nigra by reaction with ozone along a distance gradient and the consequences for pollinator attraction. For this purpose we used a reaction system comprising three reaction tubes in which we conducted measurements of floral volatiles using a proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTR-TOF-MS) and GC-MS. We also tested the effects of floral scent degradation on the responses of the generalist pollinator Bombus terrestris. The chemical analyses revealed that supplementing air with ozone led to an increasing reduction in the concentrations of floral volatiles in air with distance from the volatile source. The results revealed different reactivities with ozone for different floral scent constituents, which emphasized that ozone exposure not only degrades floral scents, but also changes the ratios of compounds in a scent blend. Behavioural tests revealed that floral scent was reduced in its attractiveness to pollinators after it had been exposed to 120 ppb O3 over a 4.5 m distance. The combined results of chemical analyses and behavioural responses of pollinators strongly suggest that high ozone concentrations have significant negative impacts on pollination by reducing the distance over which floral olfactory signals can be detected by pollinators. © 2015 New Phytologist Trust.

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Enhanced emissions of floral volatiles by Diplotaxis erucoides (L.) in response to folivory and florivory by Pieris brassicae (L.)

Farré-Armengol G., Filella I., Llusia J., Primante C., Peñuelas J. (2015) Enhanced emissions of floral volatiles by Diplotaxis erucoides (L.) in response to folivory and florivory by Pieris brassicae (L.). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 63: 51-58.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.bse.2015.09.022

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The main function of floral emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in entomophilous plants is to attract pollinators. Floral blends, however, can also contain volatile compounds with defensive functions. These defensive volatiles are specifically emitted when plants are attacked by pathogens or herbivores. We characterized the changes in the floral emissions of Diplotaxis erucoides induced by folivory and florivory by Pieris brassicae. Plants were continually subjected to folivory, florivory and folivory + florivory treatments for two days. We measured floral emissions with proton transfer reaction/mass spectroscopy (PTR-MS) at different times during the application of the treatments. The emissions of methanol, ethyl acetate and another compound, likely 3-butenenitrile, increased significantly in response to florivory. Methanol and 3-butenenitrile increased 2.4- and 26-fold, respectively, in response to the florivory treatment. Methanol, 3-butenenitrile and ethyl acetate increased 3-, 100- and 9-fold, respectively, in response to the folivory + florivory treatment. Folivory alone had no detectable effect on floral emissions. All VOC emissions began immediately after attack, with no evidence of delayed induction in any of the treatments. Folivory and florivory had a synergistic effect when applied together, which strengthened the defensive response when the attack was extended to the entire plant. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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Sensing the energetic status of plants and ecosystems

Penuelas J., Bartrons M., Llusia J., Filella I. (2015) Sensing the energetic status of plants and ecosystems. Trends in Plant Science. 20: 528-530.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2015.07.002

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The emerging consistency of the relationship between biochemical, optical, and odorous signals emitted by plants and ecosystems offers promising prospects for continuous local and global monitoring of the energetic status of plants and ecosystems, and therefore of their processing of energy and matter. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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Changes in floral bouquets from compound-specific responses to increasing temperatures

Farre-Armengol G., Filella I., Llusia J., Niinemets U., Penuelas J. (2014) Changes in floral bouquets from compound-specific responses to increasing temperatures. Global Change Biology. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/gcb.12628

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We addressed the potential effects of changes in ambient temperature on the profiles of volatile emissions from flowers and tested whether warming could induce significant quantitative and qualitative changes in floral emissions, which would potentially interfere with plant-pollinator chemical communication. We measured the temperature responses of floral emissions of various common species of Mediterranean plants using dynamic headspace sampling and used GC-MS to identify and quantify the emitted terpenes. Floral emissions increased with temperature to an optimum and thereafter decreased. The responses to temperature modeled here predicted increases in the rates of floral terpene emission of 0.03-1.4-fold, depending on the species, in response to an increase of 1 °C in the mean global ambient temperature. Under the warmest projections that predict a maximum increase of 5 °C in the mean temperature of Mediterranean climates in the Northern Hemisphere by the end of the century, our models predicted increases in the rates of floral terpene emissions of 0.34-9.1-fold, depending on the species. The species with the lowest emission rates had the highest relative increases in floral terpene emissions with temperature increases of 1-5 °C. The response of floral emissions to temperature differed among species and among different compounds within the species. Warming not only increased the rates of total emissions, but also changed the ratios among compounds that constituted the floral scents, i.e. increased the signal for pollinators, but also importantly altered the signal fidelity and probability of identification by pollinators, especially for specialists with a strong reliance on species-specific floral blends. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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