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Warming simulation increased plant volatile defence

A warming experiment in a subarctic birch forest resulted many times higher release of BVOCs. Not to be neglected in the climate discussions, says one of the researchers behind the study.
Insects attacking birch in subarctic Sweden
Insects attaching birch in subarctic Sweden. The attack in combination with warmer climate resulted in a much amplified release of BVOCs.


Ecosystems and the climate change response, as well as the feedbacks of these, are complicated to fully understand and to map out. As the currently ongoing climate change amplifies the temperature, plants respond in various ways. 
The climate change feedback of plants  involves the biogenic volatile organic compounds, BVOCs. In a new study published in nature plants online, birch forests in Abisko in subarctic Sweden, amplified their release of BVOCs by a tenfold when attcked by insects in a climate warming simulation reserach trial.

-We expected the BVOC release to increase with insect attcks, but that it would increase by eleven times in combination with the warming experiment was not expected nt that is a big change, says Thomas Holst, department of Physical geography and Ecosystem science and one of the researchers behind the study. 

BVOCs are compounds besides working as a chemical weapon to insects, affects the atmospheric composition and act as precursors to particles that can be involved in for example formation of clouds. This in turn, affects the climate and may have a cooling effect.

- It is important not to focus only on carbon dioxide and methane in the climate change discussion. There are so many more important factors, and BVOCs is one of them and should be included in the discussion, states Thomas Holst. 

The article is published here in Nature Plants online.

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Lund University
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