Plants have their own nervous system
Plants don’t have brains or nerves, but they do have something like their own nervous system. Biologists have discovered that when leaves are attacked, for example by an insect, their defense systems communicate with other parts of the plant alerting them to a possible attack of the. The research is a big step toward solving the mystery of how different parts of a plant communicate with each other.
According to new research, biologistsow from the University of Wisconsin–Madison under the direction of Professor Simon Gilroy’a, plants use the same signaling molecules as animals in their nervous system. Only plants have no nerveoin, but have something surprisingly similar.
ComoThe nerve cells of animals communicate with each other using glutamic acid, whichory after release by the excited comonerve tube, helps trigger the wave of ionoIn calcium in neighboring comorkach. This wave travels to the next comorki nerve, ktora transmits the signal further, enabling communication over long distances.
The results of the study were published in the journal „Science”.
– We knew there was a signaling system in plants. If it is injured in one place, the rest of the plant launches defensive responses. But we didn’t know what was behind this system – said Simon Gilroy.
Until now, all that was known was that if a plant is injured, an electrical charge can be observed spreading throughout the plant. However, it was not known what triggered this charge and helped propagate it.
In fact, the research focused on the effect of gravity on plants. The researchers wanted to test this by tracking calcium growth. Masatsugu Toyota, a wspohe author of the publication, developed a genetically modified mustard plant thatora allowed the researchers to observe changes in calcium concentration in real time.
The study used fluorescent proteins, whichore glows only in the presence of calcium, to mark and observe signaloin a wave of subrochewing through the plant in response to the stressor. To see if they could observe the changes, the researchers cut off one of the leaves. What they saw completely surprised them.
Scientists have seen a wave of fluorescent light emanating from a source ofothe bottom of the wound, spreading through the entire plant at a speed of about a millimeter per second. This is much slower than the signaloin a comorek nerves in animals, whichore can move up to 120 metersow per second, but for plants it is still a superfast communication.
This fluorescent light tracks calcium, whichory jumps through the tissues of the plant, giving an electrical and chemical signal of danger. This wave activates the plant’s defense mechanisms, such as increasing the production of harmful compoundsoin chemicals, whichore causes the leaves to no longer be an insectoin such a tasty. In the case of several types ofoIn grasses, this mechanism releases foul-smelling volatiles that encourage parasitic wasps to lay eggs in insects that devour the plant. This is a sophisticated and rather peculiar survival tactic.
Scientists recorded and published recordings of their research. You can find a few of them below.
The video above shows a hungry caterpillar, ktora first deals with the edges of the leaf, approaches its base and, with a final bite, cuts it off from the rest of the plant. Within seconds, the remaining leaves receive a signal (the recording shows it as a green fluorescent light) that they should prepare for attacks by the caterpillar or its relatives.
Researchers have put the pieces of this puzzle together to solve the puzzle of cell communicationoplant rec. The wound activates a neurotransmitter, ktory is taken up by receptors thatore in turn trigger the spread of ionoin calcium, which turns on the plant’s defense system to take probę protection from further damage. And all this without the nervous system.