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1.  Tracing Hidden Herbivores: Time-Resolved Non-Invasive Analysis of Belowground Volatiles by Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) 
Journal of Chemical Ecology  2012;38(6):785-794.
Root herbivores are notoriously difficult to study, as they feed hidden in the soil. However, root herbivores may be traced by analyzing specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are produced by damaged roots. These VOCs not only support parasitoids in the localization of their host, but also may help scientists study belowground plant-herbivore interactions. Herbivore-induced VOCs are usually analyzed by gas-chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), but with this off-line method, the gases of interest need to be preconcentrated, and destructive sampling is required to assess the level of damage to the roots. In contrast to this, proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) is a very sensitive on-line, non-invasive method. PTR-MS already has been successfully applied to analyze VOCs produced by aboveground (infested) plant parts. In this review, we provide a brief overview of PTR-MS and illustrate how this technology can be applied to detect specific root-herbivore induced VOCs from Brassica plants. We also specify the advantages and disadvantages of PTR-MS analyses and new technological developments to overcome their limitations.
doi:10.1007/s10886-012-0129-3
PMCID: PMC3375075  PMID: 22592334
Chemical ecology; Root herbivory; Trace gas analysis; Induced indirect defense; Mass spectrometry; Volatile organic compound (VOC)
2.  Real-time analysis of sulfur-containing volatiles in Brassica plants infested with root-feeding Delia radicum larvae using proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls021.
Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) analyses revealed that damaged Brassica roots emit sulfur-containing volatiles. B. nigra, B. juncea and B. napus emitted isothiocyanate markers, whereas B. rapa, B. oleracea, and B. carinata emitted methanethiol. These compounds can be used as markers for root damage by insect larvae and other below-ground herbivores.
Background and aims
Plants damaged by herbivores emit a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Here we used proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) as a sensitive detection method for online analysis of herbivore-induced VOCs. Previously, it was found that Brassica nigra plants emit several sulfur-containing VOCs when attacked by cabbage root fly (Delia radicum) larvae with m/z 60 as a marker for the formation of allylisothiocyanate from the glucosinolate sinigrin. We tested the hypothesis that m/z 60 emission occurs only in plants with sinigrin in their roots. Additionally, we tested the hypothesis that methanethiol, dimethylsulfide and dimethyldisulfide are only emitted after larval infestation.
Methodology
Proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry was used to track sulfur-containing VOCs from six different species of Brassica over time. The roots were either artificially damaged or infested with cabbage root fly larvae. Glucosinolate profiles of the roots were analysed using high-pressure liquid chromatography and compared with VOC emissions.
Principal results
Brassica nigra, B. juncea and B. napus primarily emitted m/z 60 directly after artificial damage or root fly infestation. Sulfide and methanethiol emissions from B. nigra and B. juncea also increased after larval damage but much later (6–12 h after damage). Brassica rapa, B. oleracea and B. carinata principally emitted methanethiol after artificial and after larval damage. Brassica oleracea and B. carinata showed some increase in m/z 60 emission after larval damage. Comparison with root glucosinolate profiles revealed that sinigrin cannot be the only precursor for m/z 60.
Conclusions
The principal compound emitted after root damage is determined by the plant species, and not by damage type or root glucosinolate composition. Once determined, the principal compounds may be used as markers for identifying damaged or infested plants. Further analyses of plant enzymes involved in the breakdown of sulfur compounds is needed to reveal the origin of sulfur-containing VOCs from plants.
doi:10.1093/aobpla/pls021
PMCID: PMC3424660  PMID: 22916330

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