Detection of plant volatiles after leaf wounding and darkening by proton transfer reaction "time-of-flight" mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF)

PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20419. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020419. Epub 2011 May 26.


Proton transfer reaction-time of flight (PTR-TOF) mass spectrometry was used to improve detection of biogenic volatiles organic compounds (BVOCs) induced by leaf wounding and darkening. PTR-TOF measurements unambiguously captured the kinetic of the large emissions of green leaf volatiles (GLVs) and acetaldehyde after wounding and darkening. GLVs emission correlated with the extent of wounding, thus confirming to be an excellent indicator of mechanical damage. Transient emissions of methanol, C5 compounds and isoprene from plant species that do not emit isoprene constitutively were also detected after wounding. In the strong isoprene-emitter Populus alba, light-dependent isoprene emission was sustained and even enhanced for hours after photosynthesis inhibition due to leaf cutting. Thus isoprene emission can uncouple from photosynthesis and may occur even after cutting leaves or branches, e.g., by agricultural practices or because of abiotic and biotic stresses. This observation may have important implications for assessments of isoprene sources and budget in the atmosphere, and consequences for tropospheric chemistry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / analysis
  • Citrus / chemistry
  • Dactylis / chemistry
  • Darkness*
  • Gases / analysis
  • Ions
  • Kinetics
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Populus / chemistry
  • Protons*
  • Terpenes / analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / chemistry


  • Gases
  • Ions
  • Protons
  • Terpenes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Carbon