Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Plant Gas Production

Name: Tasha
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: GA
Country: USA

Question: Is ethylene gas the only gas that fruits such as banana
release? If not, then what other gasses?
Plants can release airborne compounds such as methyl salicylate and methyl 
jasmonate.  These compounds can be changed by the plant into compounds that 
alter growth and development, especially after the plant is attacked by 
caterpillars or disease-causing pathogens.

Jim Tokuhisa, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

There is a list of other volatile compounds:

Anthony Brach Ph.D.

I suspect that there are far more gases released (or absorbed) by plants than are presently documented. For example, various pine trees (evergreens) release a variety of terpenes. This is why the Smokey Mountains along the east coast Appalachians are "smokey". I do not think that what function these various emissions serve is well understood, but no doubt they are multiple. Another documented example is the prevailing South to North winds in the California central valley. NOx gases from southern California (smog) passes through the central valley where they are reduced by agricultural and animal waste to ammonia before encountering the northern California forests. These trees absorb the ammonia, which actually provides fertilizer for the trees in the prevailing wind zones. The point is that there can be "cycles" that we are not even aware of.

Vince Calder

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory