Caterpillars of Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) feeding on Succisa pratensis leaves induce large foliar emissions of methanol

Josep Peñuelas, Iolanda Filella, Constantí Stefanescu, Joan Llusià

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    75 Citations (Scopus)


    • A major new discovery made in the last decade is that plants commonly emit large amounts and varieties of volatiles after damage inflicted by herbivores, and not merely from the site of injury. However, analytical methods for measuring herbivore-induced volatiles do not usually monitor the whole range of these compounds and are complicated by the transient nature of their formation and by their chemical instability. • Here we present the results of using a fast and highly sensitive proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) technique that allows simultaneous on-line monitoring of leaf volatiles in the pptv (pmol mol-1) range. • The resulting on-line mass scans revealed that Euphydryas aurinia caterpillars feeding on Succisa pratensis leaves induced emissions of huge amounts of methanol - a biogeochemically active compound and a significant component of the volatile organic carbon found in the atmosphere - and other immediate, late and systemic volatile blends (including monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and lipoxygenase-derived volatile compounds). • In addition to influencing neighboring plants, as well as herbivores and their predators and parasitoids, these large emissions might affect atmospheric chemistry and physics if they are found to be generalized in other plant species. © New Phytologist (2005).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)851-857
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2005


    • Biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
    • Euphydryas aurinia
    • Herbivory and leaf wounding
    • Lipoxygenase-derived (LOX) volatiles
    • Methanol
    • Monoterpenes
    • Sesquiterpenes
    • Succisa pratensis


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