In nature reactions often happen very fast. Common methods of analyzing compounds released when leaves are wounded do not have the capability to monitor reactions of the plants in a time resolution high enough to reveal underlying reaction sequences. Leaf wounding and the subsequent interactions between animals and plants can be analyzed in real time without the loss of precious information on the details, using our PTR-MS instruments.
PTR-MS measurement has been used when analyzing VOC emission after leaf cutting. Similar compounds are emitted from different plants: for example "greenleaf volatiles", C6-aldehydes, alcohols, terpenoids and phenolic compounds.
Scientists (Dr. Ted Turlings, Dr. Matthias Held, Université de Neuchâtel) have shown that plants under attack from caterpillars, release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Volicitin in the saliva of caterpillars induces defense genes leading to the formation of indole and other VOCs which attract wasps. The wasps use the caterpillars in their reproduction cycle and by that, do a favor to the plants.
IONICON is actively promoting research in biological applications of PTR-MS. The focus of the project is "On-line detection and diagnosis of plant damage and stress by herbivores and pathogens". For more information, see the Industrial CASE Studentship on our project website. The gathered experience helps us to develop better products and support to our customers in biological research.