Changes in terpene content and emission in potted Mediterranean woody plants under severe drought

J. Llusià, J. Peñuelas

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    Terpene concentration and emission were studied in potted plants of some of the most common Mediterranean woody species (Pinus halepensis L., Pistacia lentiscus L., Cistus albidus L., Cistus monspeliensis L., Quercus ilex L., Quercus coccifera L., Phillyrea latifolia L., Phillyrea angustifolia L., and Arbutus unedo L.) under irrigation and under severe drought conditions that dropped relative water content to a range between 40% in Q. ilex and 85% in Phillyrea latifolia after withholding watering for one dry summer week. Terpene concentrations were detected in Pinus halepensis, Pistacia lentiscus, C. albidus, and C. monspeliensis, and they increased after withholding watering except in C. albidus. Terpene emission was detected in all species except Phillyrea angustifolia and A. unedo. Pinus halepensis showed the highest diurnal terpene emission rates of 86 μg · g-1dry wt · h-1followed by C. albidus, Pistacia lentiscus, Q. ilex, Q. coccifera, Phillyrea latifolia, and C. monspeliensis (4 μg · g-1dry wt · h-1). Emitted terpenes represented from 0.33% of C fixed in C. monspeliensis to 10% in C. albidus. All species severely decreased their terpene emission rates under severe drought conditions. Emission by terpene-storing species (e.g., Pinus halepensis) was more related to temperature than in nonstoring species (e.g., Q. ilex), which showed emission relationships with photosynthetic rates. The monoterpenes α-pinene, β-pinene, β-phellandrene, and limonene and the sesquiterpene caryophyllene were the most abundant terpenes stored and emitted by these Mediterranean plant species.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1366-1373
    JournalCanadian Journal of Botany
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


    • Drought
    • Mediterranean conditions
    • Terpene concentration
    • Terpene emission
    • Woody plants


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