Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemically diverse and abundant in nature. Biogenic VOCs are present in and emitted by most plant parts and play an essential role in plant communication, pollinator/predator attraction, plant-bacterial interactions, defense, and ecology. Analysis of the VOCs emitted by plants allows for the identification of stressors as a response to disease, predation, and environmental factors.
VOC analysis can be carried out effectively by gas chromatography (GC) for the separation of complex mixture components in close-to-real-time, with subsequent detection achieved with mass spectrometry. Person-portable GC/MS systems, such as the PerkinElmer Torion® T-9, enable fast on-site identification of VOCs. In this application note, a method for the identification of VOCs in plant material utilizing a headspace technique is presented.