Isoprene and β-caryophyllene confer plant resistance via different plant internal signalling pathways

Lena Frank, Marion Wenig, Andrea Ghirardo, Alexander van der Krol, Corina Vlot, Jörg Peter Schnitzler, Maaria Rosenkranz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Isoprene and other terpenoids are important biogenic volatile organic compounds in terms of atmospheric chemistry. Isoprene can aid plant performance under abiotic stresses, but the fundamental biological reasons for the high emissions are not completely understood. Here, we provide evidence of a previously unrecognized ecological function for isoprene and for the sesquiterpene, ß-caryophyllene. We show that isoprene and ß-caryophyllene act as core components of plant signalling networks, inducing resistance against microbial pathogens in neighbouring plants. We challenged Arabidopsis thaliana with Pseudomonas syringae, after exposure to pure volatile terpenoids or to volatile emissions of transformed poplar or Arabidopsis plants. The data suggest that isoprene induces a defence response in receiver plants that is similar to that elicited by monoterpenes and depended on salicylic acid (SA) signalling. In contrast, the sesquiterpene, ß-caryophyllene, induced resistance via jasmonic acid (JA)-signalling. The experiments in an open environment show that natural biological emissions are enough to induce resistance in neighbouring Arabidopsis. Our results show that both isoprene and ß-caryophyllene function as allelochemical components in complex plant signalling networks. Knowledge of this system may be used to boost plant immunity against microbial pathogens in various crop management schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2021


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • isoprene
  • jasmonic acid
  • plant resistance
  • Pseudomonas syringae
  • salicylic acid
  • ß-caryophyllene
  • terpenes
  • volatile organic compounds

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