Nanoparticle formation by ozonolysis of inducible plant volatiles
Abstract. We present the first laboratory experiments of aerosol formation from oxidation of volatile organic species emitted by living plants, a process which for half a century has been known to take place in the atmosphere. We have treated white cabbage plants with methyl jasmonate in order to induce the production of monoterpenes and certain less-volatile sesqui- and homoterpenes. Ozone was introduced into the growth chamber in which the plants were placed, and the subsequent aerosol formation and growth of aerosols were monitored by measuring the particle size distributions continuously during the experiments. Our observations show similar particle formation rates as in the atmosphere but much higher growth rates. The results indicate that the concentrations of nonvolatile oxidation products of plant released precursors needed to induce the nucleation are roughly an order-of-magnitude higher than their concentrations during atmospheric nucleation events. Our results therefore suggest that if oxidized organics are involved in atmospheric nucleation events, their role is to participate in the growth of pre-existing molecular clusters rather than to form such clusters through homogeneous or ion-induced nucleation.