PerspectivePlant Science

Releasing plant volatiles, as simple as ABC

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Science  30 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6345, pp. 1334-1335
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan8291

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Plants communicate with friends and foes at a distance by emitting mixtures of volatile organic compounds. These volatiles serve to attract pollinators, repel herbivores, and attract herbivore enemies. They also convey information within and between plants (1, 2). To date, research on plant volatiles has emphasized many aspects of their chemistry and biochemistry. Much is known about the chemical structures of plant volatiles; the pathways, enzymes, and genes underlying their biosynthesis; and the factors regulating their formation (3). However, almost no information is available about the last step that occurs in the plant: how volatiles are released into the atmosphere. At long last, on page 1386 of this issue, Adebesin et al. (4) answer this question by reporting the discovery of an active transport system for the efflux of volatiles from plant cells.