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Keywords:

  • Biosynthesis;
  • functions;
  • isoprene;
  • Populus;
  • regulation;
  • volatile organic compounds

Abstract

Plants interact with their environment through a wide variety of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), with isoprenoids (≡ terpenes), i.e. isoprene, mono- and sesquiterpenes, playing an important role. Isoprene, a hemiterpene, is the simplest isoprenoid compound mainly emitted by tree species like poplars, oaks and willows. Woody plants alone comprise 75% of the global isoprene emitted to the atmosphere. Due to its significant influence on atmospheric chemistry, research has been focused on this C5 compound, with poplar being the most prominent model system. Recent studies indicate that isoprene can enhance thermotolerance or quench oxidative stress, while also interfering with the attraction of herbivores and parasitoids to plants. In this paper, we report on biosynthesis, regulation and function of isoprene and other stress-induced volatile isoprenoids in poplar, and discuss the future scientific challenges in this genus with respect to the importance of plant volatiles in high-density poplar biomass plantations.