The formation and function of plant volatiles: perfumes for pollinator attraction and defense

Author(s): Pichersky E, Gershenzon J


Plants synthesize and emit a large variety of volatile organic compounds with terpenoids and fatty-acid derivatives the dominant classes. Whereas some volatiles are probably common to almost all plants, others are specific to only one or a few related taxa. The rapid progress in elucidating the biosynthetic pathways, enzymes, and genes involved in the formation of plant volatiles allows their physiology and function to be rigorously investigated at the molecular and biochemical levels. Floral volatiles serve as attractants for species-specific pollinators, whereas the volatiles emitted from vegetative parts, especially those released after herbivory, appear to protect plants by deterring herbivores and by attracting the enemies of herbivores.

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