Tritrophic experiments with plants, herbivorous insects and birds – Part 7: Abbreviations for plant volatiles

The picture on top of this post is from one of the first articles of plant-animal interactions that mentions and studies volatile organic compounds VOCs (Schütz et al. 1996).

These small chemical compounds are an integral part of plant communication with other plants (e.g. Kost & Heil 2006), herbivores (e.g. Brilli et al. 2009) and natural enemies of herbivores (e.g. De Moraes et al. 1998). Plants emit these VOCs and they can be studied, for example, by collecting emitted VOCs and then analyzing them with gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS).

But the definion VOC is not restricted to only plants. In fact, the Wikipedia definition is: “Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enter the surrounding air, a trait known as volatility.”

I searched from Web of Science (24 November 2016) how many publications there are to be found with search term “VOC* AND volatil*”. The amount is 13554 publications. Majority of these deal with anthropogenic sources such as fuels, harmful chemicals, water sources etc. There are only a few publications per year during the first ten years but then the topic became more and more common (see figure below).

voc_all_figure

Number of publications per year found with search term “VOC* AND volatil*” from Web of Science (on 24 November 2016)

If I limit the results to publications of plant sciences, ecology or entomology I get 630 publications. There are still publications of anthropogenic VOC sources among that list. And I’m sure I missed many plant-animal interaction papers with that restriction. Which means that it is difficult to find how much there is VOC research of plant-animal interactions (see figure below).

voc_plant_figure

Number of publications per year found with a search term “VOC* AND volatil*” and in categories plant sciences, ecology or entomology from Web of Science (on 24 November 2016)

Good thing is that nowadays many researchers of plant-animal interactions dealing with VOCs use also some other abbreviation. But there are several different abbreviations used and I list those here. Let me know if I’ve missed any. 😉

BVOC = biogenic volatile organic compound

HIPV = herbivore-induced plant volatile

HI-VOC = herbivore-induced volatile organic compound

OIPV = oviposition-induced plant volatile

OVIV = oviposition-induced plant volatile

voc_figure

Number of publications per year found with search terms “BVOC* AND volatil*”, “HIPV* AND volatil*” or “HI-VOC* AND volatil*” from Web of Science (on 24 November 2016)

I would recommend biologists studying especially plant-emitted VOCs to use one of these more detailed abbreviations. I used in my first article VOC since then I was new to this topic and didn’t know about alternatives (Mäntylä et al. 2008). After that I started to use HIPV (Mäntylä et al. 2014, 2016) and OIPV (Mäntylä et al. manuscript).

PS. Other VOC-related useful abbreviations: GLV = green leaf volatile, MeJa or MeJA = methyl jasmonate, JA = jasmonic acid

© Elina Mäntylä (elkuma@utu.fi), 24 November 2016

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