Methods in plant foliar volatile organic compounds research

Dušan Materić, Dan Bruhn, Claire Turner, Geraint Morgan, Nigel Mason, Vincent Gauci

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29 Citations (Scopus)
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Plants are a major atmospheric source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These secondary metabolic products protect plants from high-temperature stress, mediate in plant–plant and plant–insect communication, and affect our climate globally. The main challenges in plant foliar VOC research are accurate sampling, the inherent reactivity of some VOC compounds that makes them hard to detect directly, and their low concentrations. Plant VOC research relies on analytical techniques for trace gas analysis, usually based on gas chromatography and soft chemical ionization mass spectrometry. Until now, these techniques (especially the latter one) have been developed and used primarily by physicists and analytical scientists, who have used them in a wide range of scientific research areas (e.g., aroma, disease biomarkers, hazardous compound detection, atmospheric chemistry). The interdisciplinary nature of plant foliar VOC research has recently attracted the attention of biologists, bringing them into the field of applied environmental analytical sciences. In this paper, we review the sampling methods and available analytical techniques used in plant foliar VOC research to provide a comprehensive resource that will allow biologists moving into the field to choose the most appropriate approach for their studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1500044
Number of pages10
JournalApplications in Plant Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2015


  • gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • leaf cuvette
  • plant volatile organic compound (VOC)
  • proton transfer reaction–mass spectrometry (PTR-MS)
  • selected ion fl ow tube–mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS)
  • thermal desorption–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS)


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