Congratulations to Dr. Johannes Stratmann and co-investigator Dr. Qian Wang (Chemistry & Biochemistry Department) on receiving a $300,000, 2 year grant award from the National Science Foundation (EAGER program) for conducting a research project titled "EAGER: Novel approaches to study green leaf volatile perception".
Plants can communicate with each other using a chemical language. When plants are injured by herbivores, they emit volatile organic compounds into the airspace, which can be perceived by neighboring plants. These plants interpret the volatile compounds as alarm signals and start to upregulate defense responses against their enemies to be prepared for an impending attack. Effects of volatile compounds as inducers of defenses are well characterized, but it is unknown whether plants perceive them via dedicated receptor proteins. This project will develop a novel approach for labeling volatile compounds with very small tags that can be used to track the compounds and to identify receptors. Identification of receptor proteins for volatile alarm signals may help to devise novel strategies for sustainable crop production by relying on innate plant defenses rather than agrochemicals, which often have negative impacts on the environment.