Plants perfume the air around them with a large range of volatile compounds that are critical for their reproduction, defense and internal signaling. These chemically diverse substances have long been studied by both chemists and biologists for their scientific importance, as well as their roles as perfumes, flavorings, pharmaceuticals, pest protection agents and modifiers of atmospheric chemistry. In 1999, a Gordon Research Conference on floral volatiles was initiated and later vegetative volatiles were also added to the agenda. This conference met four times (1999, 2002, 2007 and 2009). This new 2012 conference will have a broader basis and cover all plant volatiles, including those released by leaves, roots, flowers and fruit.
The new Gordon Research Conference on Plant Volatiles will take a multi-disciplinary approach to its subject treating both basic and applied aspects in depth. A central theme will be the function of volatiles in plant defense, reproduction and communication, as well as their importance in the evolution of plants and the animals, fungi and microbes that interact with them. On the plant side, the multi-faceted mechanisms by which plants synthesize, store and release volatiles will also be covered. On the animal side, the ways in which animals, including pollinators, herbivores and herbivore enemies perceive volatiles will be examined. In addition, some of the many uses of volatiles in foods, beverages and agriculture will also be included because many important findings in the volatiles field have come directly from research with an applied motivation. The aim is to bring together researchers from fields as different as food chemistry, insect neurobiology, plant enzymology and pollination ecology to exchange their latest results, share ideas and start new collaborations on plant volatiles in an inter-disciplinary context.