Terpenes and Terpenoids in Plants: Interactions with Environment and Insects

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 6;21(19):7382. doi: 10.3390/ijms21197382.


The interactions of plants with environment and insects are bi-directional and dynamic. Consequently, a myriad of mechanisms has evolved to engage organisms in different types of interactions. These interactions can be mediated by allelochemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which include volatile terpenes (VTs). The emission of VTs provides a way for plants to communicate with the environment, including neighboring plants, beneficiaries (e.g., pollinators, seed dispersers), predators, parasitoids, and herbivores, by sending enticing or deterring signals. Understanding terpenoid distribution, biogenesis, and function provides an opportunity for the design and implementation of effective and efficient environmental calamity and pest management strategies. This review provides an overview of plant-environment and plant-insect interactions in the context of terpenes and terpenoids as important chemical mediators of these abiotic and biotic interactions.

Keywords: Terpenes; abiotic; biotic; environment; insect; interaction; plants; terpenoids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Herbivory
  • Insecta / drug effects
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Terpenes / metabolism*
  • Terpenes / pharmacology


  • Terpenes