Microbial volatile organic compound database

Here, we present mVOC, which is based on an extensive literature search for microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). mVOCs are emitted by bacterial and fungal species. About 10,000 species are yet described while one million microbial species (or even more) are expected to exist everywhere in the earth' biosphere. mVOCs play important roles in nature. For example, they serve as communication signals for inter- and intraspecies interactions between bacteria and fungi in the soil. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us!

Please cite:
Lemfack MC, Nickel J, Dunkel M, Preissner R, Piechulla B.
mVOC: a database of microbial volatiles.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Jan 1;42(1):D744-8. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt1250. Epub 2013 Dec 5.

Volatile emitters

These pictures show diverse bacteria (left Petri dish) and fungi (right Petri dish) cultivated on a Petri dish. Fungi and bacteria are emitters of mVOCs. Those volatiles are characterized by molecular weights between 100 and 300 Dalton, high vapor pressure, lipophilic character and low boiling points.

Search categories

mVOCs can be searched by several categories: at the mVOC Search button as well as by a structure based similarity search at the Structure Search button. Information about the volatile emitters and how these volatiles influence other organisms are integrated. Furthermore, KEGG pathways that map the volatile compounds to pathways of the fungal or bacterial organisms can be visualized for biological interpretation.


Some mVOC emitters occur in the human body. Their VOCs can be used for diagnostic tools in medicine. Mycobacterium tuberculosis affects amongst other organs the human lung and causes tuberculosis. Respiratory disorders can cause odourous gases which are exhaled to the air. The mVOC methyl nicotinate, which is emitted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis could be used as a clinical tool for detection of tuberculosis. Promising results in this field of research have already been achieved.

Beside medicinal applications mVOCs have aroused interest in the plant research field. The plant Arabidopsis thaliana that is used as a model organism by botanists and biologists showed stimulation by some rhizobacteria mVOCs.

mVOCs also have attracted attention as alternatives of fuel. Higher alcohols like 2-methyl-1-butanol have applications as biofuels. To gain high production rates metabolic engineering and transfering the production pathway into a model organism are obligatory.

KEGG pathways

This picture shows the pathway of the butanoate metabolism of Enterobacter cloacae. The mVOC 1-butanol is an intermediate of this pathway. Furthermore, several mVOC related compounds were found in the KEGG pathway.

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