Biosynthesis of Plant Volatiles: Nature's Diversity and Ingenuity

Author(s): Eran Pichersky, Joseph P. Noel, Natalia Dudareva

Plant Volatiles


Plant volatiles (PVs) are lipophilic molecules with high vapor pressure that serve various ecological roles. The synthesis of PVs involves the removal of hydrophilic moieties and oxidation/hydroxylation, reduction, methylation, and acylation reactions. Some PV biosynthetic enzymes produce multiple products from a single substrate or act on multiple substrates. Genes for PV biosynthesis evolve by duplication of genes that direct other aspects of plant metabolism; these duplicated genes then diverge from each other over time. Changes in the preferred substrate or resultant product of PV enzymes may occur through minimal changes of critical residues. Convergent evolution is often responsible for the ability of distally related species to synthesize the same volatile.

Publication Information:

Name of Periodical: Science

Volume Number: 311

Issue Number: 5762

Year of Publication: 2006