Stewart-Jones, Alex and Poppy, Guy M.
Comparison of glass vessels and plastic bags for enclosing living plant parts for headspace analysis
Journal of Chemical Ecology, 32, (4), . (doi:10.1007/s10886-006-9039-6).
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Plants release volatile chemicals into their surrounding air space that can affect the physiology of neighboring plants and influence the behavior of insects. In studying these interactions, it is desirable to collect volatiles from plants that have not been excised and are growing under as natural conditions as possible. We compared a vessel of borosilicate glass and Nylon-6 or polyester [poly(ethyleneterephthalate) or PET] cooking bags for enclosing plants during collection of volatiles. A push–pull airflow system was used, and volatiles were trapped on Tenax TA and analyzed by gas chromatography after thermal desorption. Low levels of impurities were found for the glass vessel and polyester bags. Nylon bags contained higher levels and more impurities. Recoveries of standards of 10 plant volatiles were measured in static and dynamic systems. In a static air system, there was good recovery only from the glass vessel. In a dynamic system, there was generally good recovery from both the glass vessel and polyester bags. Recoveries of Éø-pinene and (Z)-jasmone were poor throughout. The former was shown to have a very low breakthrough volume on the Tenax TA adsorbent, and the latter may be strongly adsorbed on glass. All three materials were essentially transparent in the IR and visible (photosynthetic) range but with significantly different absorptions in the UV range. In a simulated dynamic entrainment in full sunlight, internal vessel temperatures were higher than ambient by up to 9.5°C in the glass vessel and 7.5°C in the polyester bag. Lower increases in temperature relative to ambient (<1°C) were recorded when entrainments were conducted in the shade. In a field trial, the profiles of volatiles collected from an apple tree infested with rosy apple aphid using a glass vessel and a polyester bag were similar. Polyester bags are recommended as more convenient than glass vessels for the enclosure of plants during the collection of volatiles.
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