Plants emit a large diversity and quantity of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which have different physiological and ecological functions.  These compounds also affect atmospheric chemistry and have final cascading effects on communities of organisms, ecosystems, air quality, and climate.  Current projections predict a substantial increase in VOC emissions in response to global change. Temperature is expected to be affected, which itself increases the volatilization and synthesis of VOCs. Not only leaves are affected but flowers as well, for which VOCs play a key role.

Exposure to increased concentrations of ozone is also causing stress in plants and altering VOC emissions.  In addition, ozone is significantly reducing the lifetime of these compounds and is interfering in some of their ecological functions. The study of VOCs is becoming more crucial in regards to their interactions with NOx, other anthropogenic molecules, and their relevance for air quality and impacts on human health.

Our research is made unique by our particular lines of work, approaches, and backgrounds.  We combine knowledge from biochemistry and plant physiology (secondary metabolism), terrestrial ecology, and atmospheric chemistry; with such combinations we provide innovative outlooks on the functioning of living organisms, ecosystems and global change processes.

The main lines of work and experience of CREAF in this field include:

  • Ecophysiology of Mediterranean plants: We study the ecophysiological responses of Mediterranean plants to climate change.
  • VOC emissions and global change: We analyze how global change affects biogenic emissions of volatile organic compounds.
  • Plants' VOC contents: We analyze how global change can modify volatile organic compound contents in the different parts of plants.
  • VOC characterization: We characterize plant terpene emissions and contents in different climate zones (Mediterranean, tropical, boreal, etc.).

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