Arabidopsis thaliana as bioindicator of fungal VOCs in indoor air

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In this paper, we demonstrate the ability of Arabidopsis thaliana to detect different mixtures of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by the common indoor fungus, Aspergillus versicolor, and demonstrate the potential usage of the plant as a bioindicator to monitor fungal VOCs in indoor air. We evaluated the volatile production of Aspergillus versicolor strains SRRC 108 (NRRL 3449) and SRRC 2559 (ATCC 32662) grown on nutrient rich fungal medium, and grown under conditions to mimic the substrate encountered in the built environment where fungi would typically grow indoors (moist wallboard and ceiling tiles). Using headspace solid phase microextraction/gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we analyzed VOC profiles of the two strains. The most abundant compound produced by both strains on all three media was 1-octen-3-ol. Strain SRRC 2559 made several terpenes not detected from strain SRRC 108. Using a split-plate bioassay, we grew Arabidopsis thaliana in a shared atmosphere with VOCs from the two strains of Aspergillus versicolor grown on yeast extract sucrose medium. The VOCs emitted by SRRC 2559 had an adverse impact on seed germination and plant growth. Chemical standards of individual VOCs from the Aspergillus versicolor mixture (2-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 1-octen-3-ol, limonene, and β-farnesene), and β- caryophyllene were tested one by one in seed germination and vegetative plant growth assays. The most inhibitory compound to both seed germination and plant growth was 1-octen-3-ol. Our data suggest that Arabidopsis is a useful model for monitoring indoor air quality as it is sensitive to naturally emitted fungal volatile mixtures as well as to chemical standards of individual compounds, and it exhibits relatively quick concentration- and duration-dependent responses.

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