Volatile organic compounds-mediated plant-microbe communication

Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions

Unlike animals, plants do not possess olfactory receptors neither associated neural networks. However, plant cells do communicate via volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzenoids, terpenoids and C6-aldehydes. The key defense-related phytohormones ethylene, methyl jasmonate and methyl salicylate are bona fide volatiles that trigger profound reprogramming of the plant transcriptome into an optimized growth/immune response trade-off.

Our research questions the role of bacteria-derived VOCs as signaling cues between microbes and plants. Bacterial VOCs bouquets comprise plant-like and microbe-specific molecules that elicit plant growth and systemic resistance. Yet, it remains unclear how plants perceive such molecules and distinguish bacterial cues from plant signals. The overlap between plant and microbial volatilomes suggests that VOCs constitute an ancient cross-kingdom language that allows the early recognition of compatible or incompatible partnerships.

Using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and pathogenic or beneficial rhizobacterial species, we intend to unravel the molecular pathways translating VOCs recognition into directed plant responses at the root interface.


Recent Publications

  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs Target TWISTED DWARF1-Regulated Actin Dynamics and Auxin Transport-Mediated Plant Development
    Tan, Shutang; Di Donato, Martin; Glanc, Matous; Zhang, Xixi; Klima, Petr; Bailly, Aurelien; Ferro, Noel; Petrasek, Jan; Geisler, Markus; Friml, Jiri
    Cell Reports,  10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108463 DEC 1 2020
  • Auxin-transporting ABC transporters are defined by a conserved D/E-P motif regulated by a prolylisomerase
    Hao, Pengchao; Xia, Jian; Liu, Jie; Di Donato, Martin; Pakula, Konrad; et al.
    Journal Of Biological Chemistry  DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA120.014104 SEP 11 2020
  • Linking Comparative Genomics of Nine Potato-Associated Pseudomonas Isolates With Their Differing Biocontrol Potential Against Late Blight
    De Vrieze, Mout; Varadarajan, Adithi R.; Schneeberger, Kerstin; Bailly, Aurelien; Rohr, Rudolf P.; et al.
    Frontiers In Microbiology  DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00857  Published: APR 30 2020
  • Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of the Novel Growth Inhibitor Streptol Glucoside, Isolated from an Obligate Plant Symbiont
    Hsiao, CC; Sieber, S; Georgiou, A; Bailly, A; Emmanouilidou, D; Carlier, A; Eberl, L; Gademann, K
    CHEMISTRY-A EUROPEAN JOURNAL, 25 (7):1722-1726; 10.1002/chem.201805693 FEB 1 2019
  • Mining the Volatilomes of Plant-Associated Microbiota for New Biocontrol Solutions 
    Bailly, Aurelien; Weisskopf, Laure 
    FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 8; https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01638 AUG 25 2017
  • TWISTED DWARF1 Mediates the Action of Auxin Transport Inhibitors on Actin Cytoskeleton Dynamics 
    Zhu, JS; Bailly, A; Zwiewka, M; Sovero, V; Di Donato, M; Ge, P; Oehri, J; Aryal, B; Hao, PC; Linnert, M; Burgardt, NI; Lucke, C; Weiwad, M; Michel, M; Weiergraber, OH; Pollmann, S; Azzarello, E; Mancuso, S; Ferro, N; Fukao, Y; Hoffmann, C; Wedlich-Soldner, R; Friml, J; Thomas, C; Geisler, M
    PLANT CELL, 28(4): 930-948 10.1105/tpc.15.00726  APR 2016
  • Master and servant: Regulation of auxin transporters by FKBPs and cyclophilins
    Geisler, Markus; Bailly, Aurelien; Ivanchenko, Maria
    PLANT SCIENCE 245: 1-10  DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2015.12.004   APR 2016
  • The Anti-Phytophthora Effect of Selected Potato-Associated Pseudomonas Strains: From the Laboratory to the Field
    Guyer A; De Vrieze M; Boenisch D; Gloor R; Musa T; Bodenhausen N;, Bailly A; Weisskopf L
    FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY  6 10.3389/fmicb.2015.01309  NOV 27 2015
  • Volatile Organic Compounds from Native Potato-associated Pseudomonas as Potential Anti-oomycete Agents
    De Vrieze M; Pandey P; Bucheli, TD; Varadarajan AR; Ahrens CH; Weisskopf L; Bailly A
    FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY 6   10.3389/fmicb.2015.01295  NOV 23 2015
  • Structure and mechanism of ATP-dependent phospholipid transporters 
    Lopez-Marques, RL; Poulsen, LR; Bailly, Aurelien; Geisler, M; Pomorski, TG; Palmgren, MG
    BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-GENERAL SUBJECTS, 1850 (3): 461-475  10.1016/j.bbagen.2014.04.008  MAR 2015

Dr. Aurélien Bailly
University of Zurich
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
8008 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 634 82 41

Research topics

  • Molecular plant-microbe interactions
  • Induced systemic resistance in plants
  • Plant growth- and health-promotion features of plant-associated bacteria
  • Microbial volatile organic compounds



  • Chemical signaling in plants
  • Innate immunity in plants
  • Auxin-driven plant growth responses
  • Microbiology
  • Bio/chemistry of low molecular weight compounds