Exogenous methyl jasmonate induces volatile emissions in cotton plants

Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Sesar J. Crafts-Brandner, Paul W. Paré, Thomas J. Henneberry

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144 Scopus citations


We investigated the effect of exogenous methyl jasmonate (MeJA) on the emission of herbivore-induced volatiles; these volatile chemicals can signal natural enemies of the herbivore to the damaged plant. Exogenous treatment of cotton cv. Deltapine 5415 plants with MeJA induced the emission of the same volatile compounds as observed for herbivore-damaged plants. Cotton plants treated with MeJA emitted elevated levels of the terpenes (E)-βocimene, linalool, (3E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, (E,E)-α-farnesene, (E)-β-farnesene, and (E,E)-4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene compared to untreated controls. Other induced components included (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, methyl salicylate, and indole. Methyl jasmonate treatment did not cause the release of any of the stored terpenes such as α-pinene, β-pinene, α-humulene, and (E)-β-caryophyllene. In contrast, these compounds were emitted in relatively large amounts from cotton due to physical disruption of glands by the herbivores. The timing of volatile release from plants treated with MeJA or herbivores followed a diurnal pattern, with maximal volatile release during the middle of the photoperiod. Similar to herbivore-treated plants, MeJA treatment led to the systemic induction of (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, (E)-β-ocimene, linalool, (3E)4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, (E,E)-α-farnesene, (E)-β-farnesene, and (E,E)4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene. Our results indicate that treatment of cotton with MeJA can directly and systemically induce the emission of volatiles that may serve as odor cues in the host-search behavior of natural enemies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-695
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Cotton
  • Induction
  • Methyl jasmonate
  • Plant defense
  • Spodoptera exigua
  • Volatile semiochemicals


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