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Scents and sensibility in agriculture: exploiting specificity in herbivore- and pathogen-induced plant volatiles for real-time crop monitoring

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 AGRISCENTS project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the AGRISCENTS project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "AGRISCENTS" about.

knowhow    device    volatile    detection    sensors    sensor    complete    statistical    treatments    breath    techniques    root    human    optimize    ing    contributed    models    manipulating    herbivory    roots    astonishingly    create    right    prints    signal    interconnected    nitriles    combine    decipher    combinations    leaps    analytical    distinguishable    monitoring    engineer    gene    inventory    envisioned    genes    claim    infestations    pests    quantities    release    herbivores    adapt    blends    readily    manipulate    promoters    poplar    time    permit    pathogen    odour    cyp    simultaneous    place    p450    vocabulary    breakthroughs    plant    successfully    mixtures    inducible    generate    nano    protection    pest    pathogens    wish    cassettes    herbivore    attackers    farmers    mechanical    volatiles    odorous    detect    initially    model    discovery    maize    blend    plants    packages    chemical    crop    genetically    prototype    specificity    cancer    attack    diseases    aldoximes   

Project "AGRISCENTS" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 2000

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Switzerland [CH]
 Total cost 2˙498˙086 €
 EC max contribution 2˙498˙086 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2017-ADG
 Funding Scheme ERC-ADG
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-09-01   to  2023-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITE DE NEUCHATEL CH (NEUCHATEL) coordinator 2˙498˙086.00


 Project objective

Plants typically release large quantities of volatiles in response to attack by herbivores or pathogens. I may claim to have contributed to various breakthroughs in this research field, including the discovery that the volatile blends induced by different attackers are astonishingly specific, resulting in characteristic, readily distinguishable odour blends. Using maize as our model plant, I wish to take several leaps forward in our understanding of this signal specificity and use this knowledge to develop sensors for the real-time detection of crop pests and diseases. For this, three interconnected work-packages will aim to:

• Develop chemical analytical techniques and statistical models to decipher the odorous vocabulary of plants, and to create a complete inventory of “odour-prints” for a wide range of herbivore-plant and pathogen-plant combinations, including simultaneous infestations. • Develop and optimize nano-mechanical sensors for the detection of specific plant volatile mixtures. For this, we will initially adapt a prototype sensor that has been successfully developed for the detection of cancer-related volatiles in human breath. • Genetically manipulate maize plants to release a unique blend of root-produced volatiles upon herbivory. For this, we will engineer gene cassettes that combine recently identified P450 (CYP) genes from poplar with inducible, root-specific promoters from maize. This will result in maize plants that, in response to pest attack, release easy-to-detect aldoximes and nitriles from their roots.

In short, by investigating and manipulating the specificity of inducible odour blends we will generate the necessary knowhow to develop a novel odour-detection device. The envisioned sensor technology will permit real-time monitoring of the pests and enable farmers to apply crop protection treatments at the right time and in the right place.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Peng-Jun Zhang, Jia-Ning Wei, Chan Zhao, Ya-Fen Zhang, Chuan-You Li, Shu-Sheng Liu, Marcel Dicke, Xiao-Ping Yu, Ted C. J. Turlings
Airborne host–plant manipulation by whiteflies via an inducible blend of plant volatiles
published pages: 7387-7396, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1818599116
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116/15 2020-01-30

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