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Title

LONG DISTANCE ELECTRICAL SIGNALLING IN WOUNDED PLANTS

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Abstract

 THE LEAVES OF ALL PLANTS USE ELABORATE AND INDUCIBLE DEFENCE SYSTEMS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. IT HAS LONG BEEN KNOWN THAT THE DEFENCE RESPONSES OF PLANTS UNDER ATTACK BY INSECTS ARE NOT RESTRICTED TO THE SITE OF ATTACK. WE INVESTIGATED THE POSSIBLE ROLE OF THE ELECTRICAL SIGNALS IN THE LEAF-TO-LEAF ACTIVATION OF THE JASMONATE PATHWAY. WE FOUND THAT FEEDING INSECTS STIMULATE EASILY DETECTED ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY IN THE LEAVES OF ARABIDOPSIS THALIANA AND WE USED NON-INVASIVE SURFACE ELECTRODES TO RECORD THIS ACTIVITY. THIS APPROACH SHOWED THAT JASMONATE PATHWAY ACTIVITY AND THE ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY PROVOKED BY MECHANICAL WOUNDING OCCURRED WITHIN IDENTICAL SPATIAL BOUNDARIES. MEASUREMENTS OF THE APPARENT SPEED OF SURFACE POTENTIALS AGREED WELL WITH PREVIOUS VELOCITY ESTIMATES FOR THE SPEED OF LEAF-TO-LEAF SIGNALS THAT ACTIVATE THE JASMONATE PATHWAY. CURRENT INJECTION INTO ARABIDOPSIS LEAVES RESULTED IN THE STRONG EXPRESSION OF MANY JASMONATE-REGULATED GENES. ALL THESE RESULTS SHOWED THAT ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY AND THE ACTIVATION OF JASMONATE SIGNALLING WERE HIGHLY CORRELATED. TO TEST CAUSAL LINKS BETWEEN THE TWO PROCESSES, WE CONDUCTED A REVERSE GENETIC SCREEN ON A SERIES OF T-DNA. THIS SCREEN REVEALED THAT MUTATIONS IN GENES RELATED TO IONOTROPIC GLUTAMATE RECEPTORS IN ANIMALS HAD IMPAIRED ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY AFTER WOUNDING. COMBINING MUTATION OF TWO OF THESE GLUTAMATE-RECEPTOR-LIKE GENES (GLR3.3 AND GLR3.6) IN A DOUBLE MUTANT WAS FAILED TO TRANSMIT A LONG-DISTANCE SIGNAL TO A DISTAL LEAF. THIS RESULT DISTINGUISHED THE DOUBLE MUTANT FROM THE WILD-TYPE PLANT AND PROVIDES THE FIRST GENETIC EVIDENCE THAT ELECTRICAL SIGNALLING IS NECESSARY TO COORDINATE DEFENCE RESPONSES BETWEEN ORGANS IN PLANTS.

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