Plant communication/sensing references wanted

Tony Travis ajt at
Sat Dec 19 17:29:57 EST 1992

In article <921219201229.MIN-LDEAa26371.bionet-news at> you wrote:
: [...]
: 	Okay.  Wildon, et. al., state that "...wounding by heat or physical
: 	injury produces electrical activity that has similarities to the
: 	epithelial conduction system used to transmit a stimulus in the
: 	defence responses of some lower animals."

I confess that I have not read Wildon et al. but one aspect of the
relationship between plant cells is the existence of electrochemical
gradients that drive ion-transport between them.  Any perturbation of
these gradients by disruption of the cell membrane (mechanical injury
or denaturation of proteins in the membrane by heat) is likely to cause
a 'ripple' or wave of change as cells in the surrounding tissues
readjust to changes in the electrochemical environment around them.

I can accept that this is, in some ways, like the transmission of
stimuli in 'animals' such as hydra (which are associations of
cooperating individuals rather than genuine multi-cellular organisms).
In the case of plants, the existence of a continuous extracellular
channel of communication via the apoplast may facilitate (relatively)
rapid responses by the propagation of perturbations in one part of the
plant to another.

The hormonal control of growth and development is strategic to the
success of a plant, but I can see a 'tactical' advantage to plants that
are able to respond more rapidly to changes in their environment. 
Mimosa pudica is a case in point where (as I mentioned in a previous
article) the rapid leaf movements in response to mechanical stimuli may
reduce the loss of foliage from damage caused by torrential rain or
grazing animals.

Dr. A.J.Travis,                       |  Tony Travis
Rowett Research Institute,            |  JANET: <ajt at>
Greenburn Road, Bucksburn,            |  other: <ajt at>
Aberdeen, AB2 9SB. UK.                |  phone: 0224-712751

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