A cell culture of Cupressus lusitanica was used to investigate the reaction of a plant to certain airborne chemicals. Compared with laboratory and field methods using intact plants or tissues, a cell culture is advantageous because it is not affected by environmental factors, and the experiments are easier to reproduce. When exposed to an elicitor, our cell line produces 10 monoterpenes and β-thujaplicin, which is a strong phytoalexin. These monoterpenes are emitted into the vapor phase and are expected to play a role in airborne signaling. In the present study, the cells were exposed to monoterpene vapors, and the volatiles present in the culture flasks were monitored. When the culture cells were exposed to low doses of sabinene, we detected γ-terpinene and p-cymene. After exposure to γ-terpinene, we found p-cymene and terpinolene, whereas p-cymene exposure resulted in terpinolene emission. By contrast, the other seven monoterpenes we investigated did not induce any emissions of other monoterpenes. These results strongly suggest that in C. lusitanica a signaling cascade exists that starts with the emission of sabinene and moves to γ-terpinene, p-cymene, and finally to terpinolene, which accelerates the production of the phytoalexin β-thujaplicin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics