Are eucalypt leaf volatiles inducible?

Main area:Ecology
Target group:Biology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics
Educational level:Masters, Bachelor
Project description:

Plants produce a vast array of specialized metabolites which enable them to interact with their environment e.g. attract pollinators and protect against herbivores and pathogens. Many specialized metabolites are volatile, and are released into the air constitutively, or upon induction, such as following herbivore attack or in response to abiotic stress. Eucalyptus species produce many specialized metabolites, including volatile mono- and sesquiterpenes. Whilst it is known that eucalypt volatiles are emitted constitutively, very little is known about the extent volatile emissions are inducible, and how the chemical profile may change in response to herbivore attack.  
This project will assess whether any qualitative and quantitative differences in eucalypt leaf volatile emissions are observed in response to mechanical leaf damage, and treatment with phytohormones. In addition, examination of any specialized metabolite concentration changes will be assessed by chemical extraction and analysis by LC-MS and GC-MS. This project will provide valuable insight into how eucalypt trees respond to biotic stress, and the possibility to identify new compounds that may only be synthesized and or emitted in response to herbivore attack.

Methods used:Volatile emission capture, chemical extractions, gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, GCMS, LCMS
Keywords:Plant physiology, BVOC, terpenes, Eucalyptus, inducible chemical defense
Supervisor(s):  Riikka Rinnan (BIO), Elizabeth Neilson (PLEN)