Garden snail

Something in the air? Volatiles influence mollusc attack on seedlings

Although pulmonate molluscs are the principal seedling herbivores in temperate grasslands and agriculture, we understand little about what drives seedling selection. Shannon et al. examined the roles of constitutive chemical defences (glucosinolates) and volatiles (volatile organic compounds (VOCs)) in the attractiveness of oilseed rape (Brassica napus) seedlings to snails (Helix aspersa).

Garden snail
Garden snail. Photo Sid Mosdell / Flickr.

While glucosinolates had no effect, VOCs related to snail selective preferences were identified and a blend of ‘repellent’ VOCs (mainly green leaf volatiles) reduced snail selection in olfactometer choice tests. The study highlights the possibility of modifying the VOC profile of crop seedlings to reduce damage by agricultural pests.

See also Futurity: Pesky snails pick food by smell not taste


The Annals of Botany Office is based at the University of Oxford.

Read this in your language

The Week in Botany

On Monday mornings we send out a newsletter of the links that have been catching the attention of our readers on Twitter and beyond. You can sign up to receive it below.

@BotanyOne on Mastodon

Loading Mastodon feed...