Plant volatiles (PVs) mediate manifold interactions between plants and their biotic and abiotic environments (Dicke and Baldwin, 2010; Holopainen and Gershenzon, 2010). An understanding of the physiological and ecological functions of PVs must therefore be based on measurements of PV emissions under natural conditions. Yet sampling PVs in natural environments is difficult, limited by the need to transport, maintain, and power instruments, or else to employ expensive sorbent devices in replicate. Thus PVs are usually measured in the artificial environments of laboratories or climate chambers. However, polydimethysiloxane (PDMS), a sorbent commonly used for PV sampling (Van Pinxteren et al., 2010; Seethapathy and Górecki, 2012), is available as silicone tubing (ST) for as little as 0.60 €/m (versus 100-550 € apiece for standard PDMS sorbent devices). Small (mm-cm) ST pieces can be placed in any experimental setting and used for headspace sampling with little manipulation of the organism or headspace. ST pieces have absorption kinetics and capacities sufficient to sample plant headspaces on a timescale of minutes to hours, producing biologically meaningful “snapshots” of PV blends. When combined with thermal desorption (TD)-GC-MS analysis - a 40-year-old and widely available technology - ST pieces yield reproducible, sensitive, spatiotemporally resolved, quantitative data from headspace samples taken in natural environments (Kallenbach et al., 2014).
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