The Role of Volatiles in Plant–Plant Interactions

  • Cesar R. Rodriguez-SaonaEmail author
  • Mark C. Mescher
  • Consuelo M. De Moraes
Part of the Signaling and Communication in Plants book series (SIGCOMM, volume 19)


Plants respond to herbivory by emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which mediate diverse ecological interactions between plants and other organisms. Almost three decades after it was first proposed that plants respond to VOCs from injured neighbors, this phenomenon is now well established and has been documented across multiple levels of biological organization (i.e., molecular, biochemical, and ecological). Recent studies have also shown that herbivore-induced VOCs can play a role in within-plant communication. In general, VOCs appear frequently to prime defenses in plants, enhancing plant responses to subsequent herbivore attack. The mechanisms underlying such effects remain largely unknown, though we have recently begun to learn more about the genes involved in plant–plant signaling. This chapter summarizes our current knowledge about the role of VOCs in plant-to-plant interactions. By synthesizing these findings, our chapter intends to point out gaps in existing research, in particular the need for further studies under natural conditions.


Volatile organic compounds Within-plant communication Herbivore-induced plant volatiles Priming Plant signaling Trophic interactions 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cesar R. Rodriguez-Saona
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark C. Mescher
    • 2
  • Consuelo M. De Moraes
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyRutgers UniversityChatsworthUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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