Herbivore-induced volatiles from tea (Camellia sinensis) plants and their involvement in intraplant communication and changes in endogenous nonvolatile metabolites

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Dec 28;59(24):13131-5. doi: 10.1021/jf203396a. Epub 2011 Nov 21.


As a defense response to attacks by herbivores such as the smaller tea tortrix ( Adoxophyes honmai Yasuda), tea ( Camellia sinensis ) leaves emit numerous volatiles such as (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, linalool, α-farnesene, benzyl nitrile, indole, nerolidol, and ocimenes in higher concentration. Attack of Kanzawa spider mites ( Tetranychus kanzawai Kishida), another major pest insect of tea crops, induced the emission of α-farnesene and ocimenes from tea leaves. The exogenous application of jasmonic acid to tea leaves induced a volatile blend that was similar, although not identical, to that induced by the smaller tea tortrix. Most of these herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPV) were not stored in the tea leaves but emitted after the herbivore attack. Both the adaxial and abaxial epidermal layers of tea leaves emitted blends of similar composition. Furthermore, HIPV such as α-farnesene were emitted mostly from damaged but not from undamaged leaf regions. A principal component analysis of metabolites (m/z 70-1000) in undamaged tea leaves exposed or not to HIPV suggests that external signaling via HIPV may lead to more drastic changes in the metabolite spectrum of tea leaves than internal signaling via vascular connections, although total catechin contents were slightly but not significantly increased in the external signaling via HIPV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Camellia sinensis / metabolism*
  • Cyclopentanes / pharmacology
  • Herbivory*
  • Lepidoptera
  • Oxylipins / pharmacology
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Sesquiterpenes / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tetranychidae
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / metabolism*


  • Cyclopentanes
  • Oxylipins
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • alpha-farnesene
  • jasmonic acid