Ecological Functions of Terpenoids in Changing Climates Chapter uri icon


  • © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013. Terpenoids comprise the largest and most structurally diverse class of organic compounds. Terpenoids have a multitude of ecological functions, which might be perturbed under changing environmental conditions. The best-known functions of terpenoids in-, and volatilized from, plant tissues are related to adaptation to abiotic stresses and biotic stressors, such as herbivores and pathogens. However, the high volatility and reactivity of some terpenoids may also affect the atmosphere composition. Volatility of terpenoids provides, for sessile plants, a tool for communication with other organisms such as neighboring plants, pollinators and foes of herbivores, via air-borne infochemicals. We review the main properties of biogenic terpenoids, from various scales, including the plant cell, leaf surface and canopy. We also explore links to ecological functions and atmospheric behavior, including the chemical transformations of terpenoids. The functionality of the terpenoids could be strongly influenced by the predicted changes of climatic conditions upon proceeding global climate change. On the other hand, volatile terpenoids released by large forested areas continues to have a significant effect on local climatic conditions e.g., by formation of light-scattering blue haze which is composed of terpenoid-derived secondary aerosol particles. Such processes might also be altered by climatic changes.

author list (cited authors)

  • Holopainen, J. K., Himanen, S. J., Yuan, J. S., Chen, F., & Stewart, C. N.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Holopainen, Jarmo K||Himanen, Sari J||Yuan, JS||Chen, F||Stewart, C Neal

Book Title

  • Natural Products

publication date

  • May 2013