Emission of volatile organic compounds from petunia flowers is facilitated by an ABC transporter

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Abstract

Plants synthesize a diversity of volatile molecules that are important for reproduction and defense, serve as practical products for humans, and influence atmospheric chemistry and climate. Despite progress in deciphering plant volatile biosynthesis, their release from the cell has been poorly understood. The default assumption has been that volatiles passively diffuse out of cells. By characterization of a Petunia hybrida adenosine triphosphate–binding cassette (ABC) transporter, PhABCG1, we demonstrate that passage of volatiles across the plasma membrane relies on active transport. PhABCG1 down-regulation by RNA interference results in decreased emission of volatiles, which accumulate to toxic levels in the plasma membrane. This study provides direct proof of a biologically mediated mechanism of volatile emission.

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