Chemotyping the temporal volatile organic compounds of an invasive fungus to the United States, Raffaelea lauricola.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the headspace of the fungus Raffaelea lauricola have been monitored and identified over a twenty-eight day growth period. R. lauricola is an invasive and phytopathogenic fungus that was first identified in the United States in the mid-2000s. It is believed to be spread by a host beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, and is detrimental both to wild members of the Lauraceae family and to commercial avocado groves particularly in the Southeastern region of the country. The fungus causes the fatal laurel wilt disease, a result of the host tree shutting down its vascular system in order to halt the spread of the fungus. The current study identified the VOCs present in the headspace of R. lauricola over the initial growth stage using headspace solid phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS). Results revealed the VOC dynamics of the fungus in culture, indicating that the initial growth period of the fungus may coincide with potential responses from the host trees that may recognize and respond to the pathogen when the fungal VOCs are produced as a result of primary metabolic processes. As fungal growth progresses past initial growth phases, the predominant compounds seen in the odor profile are hydrocarbons and terpenes, produced from secondary metabolic processes. The odor profile pattern for the twenty-eight day growth period did change with the stages of growth. Based on the information learned from this pilot study, a discussion is presented of possible host tree reactions to R. lauricola and implications for future experiments.