Life Sciences


Green leaf volatiles (GLVs) are plant-derived volatile organic compounds (VOCs) known to affect plant-plant communication. Specifically, GLVs can facilitate “priming”, whereby plants initiate a faster and stronger defensive response to a subsequent stress. The stress-induced GLV cis-3-hexenyl acetate (z3HAC) is a known priming cue, yet whether the concentration of the z3HAC affects plant defenses is unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that z3HAC concentration of would influence Arabidopsis thaliana resistance against a specialist (Trichoplusia ni) and generalist (Spodoptera exigua) herbivore. Our z3HAC treatments ranged from 0-100 ng/hr, which spanned the range of recorded natural emissions (10-40 ng/hr). We measured relative growth rates (RGR) of naïve caterpillars as a proxy for plant resistance. z3HAC concentration had no linear effects on A. thaliana resistance, even though the specialist performed better than did the generalist. Interestingly, the specialist’s RGR was greater than the generalist’s RGR on previously induced plants independent of z3HAC. Our results suggest that the concentration of z3HAC may not be an important factor in its reliability as a predictor of future herbivory.

Mentor Name

Christopher J. Frost

Mentor Email