PloS one

Volatile compound-mediated interactions between barley and pathogenic fungi in the soil.

PMID 23818966


Plants are able to interact with their environment by emitting volatile organic compounds. We investigated the volatile interactions that take place below ground between barley roots and two pathogenic fungi, Cochliobolus sativus and Fusarium culmorum. The volatile molecules emitted by each fungus, by non-infected barley roots and by barley roots infected with one of the fungi or the two of them were extracted by head-space solid phase micro extraction and analyzed by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. The effect of fungal volatiles on barley growth and the effect of barley root volatiles on fungal growth were assessed by cultivating both organisms in a shared atmosphere without any physical contact. The results show that volatile organic compounds, especially terpenes, are newly emitted during the interaction between fungi and barley roots. The volatile molecules released by non-infected barley roots did not significantly affect fungal growth, whereas the volatile molecules released by pathogenic fungi decreased the length of barley roots by 19 to 21.5% and the surface of aerial parts by 15%. The spectrum of the volatiles released by infected barley roots had no significant effect on F. culmorum growth, but decreased C. sativus growth by 13 to 17%. This paper identifies the volatile organic compounds emitted by two pathogenic fungi and shows that pathogenic fungi can modify volatile emission by infected plants. Our results open promising perspectives concerning the biological control of edaphic diseases.