Volatiles from potato plants infected with Phytophthora infestans (Mont.) de Bary were monitored by in situ headspace sampling. The sampling was done in four periods i.e. 28–42, 52–66, 76–90, and 100–114 h after inoculation (HAI). The headspace samples were analyzed by a gas chromatography–flame ionization detector (GC–FID) to assess the differences in volatile fingerprints between the infected-plant group and control groups, i.e. non-inoculated-plant and empty-vessel groups. The samples were subsequently analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to identify specific peaks observed by GC–FID. Spore germination, infection, symptom development and sporulation were also monitored to ascertain the disease developmental stage when marker volatiles were first generated. The first symptoms of infection were visible after two days. Three marker volatiles i.e. (E)-2-hexenal, 5-ethyl-2(5H)-furanone and benzene-ethanol were found in the third and fourth trapping periods (3–4 days after inoculation) when sporangiophores were already formed. The volatile metabolites from blighted plants could be applied for sensor development to detect the occurrence of the disease in the field as well as for investigation of volatile production in relation to plant responses to infection.
- damaged plants