Watch A Plant Light Up When Attacked By Insects

Posted: Sep 16 2018, 6:08am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Watch a Plant Light up When Attacked by Insects
Credit: Simon Gilroy

New study reveals that calcium flows across the plant's tissues after an attack and delivers warning signal.

A new study shows how plants send internal warning signals in response to an attack by herbivore and activate their defense mechanism.

When an insect feeds on a leaf, it triggers many physiological responses inside a plant. Plants use calcium as a signal of threat that quickly spreads to other leaves. This flux of calcium also indirectly forms plant’s defense mechanism.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have now explained this whole process by adding green, fluorescent protein. More than a dozen of videos have revealed how glutamate – an abundant neurotransmitter in animals – activates the wave of calcium when the plant is attacked by an insect. In one video, a hungry caterpillar could be seen taking a bit out of a leaf. Within seconds, plant glows as calcium flows from damaged area to other leaves.

The blaze of fluorescent light shows that calcium is involved in processing information and sending rapid warning signals so that plants can respond quickly in the situation. These videos allow researchers to trace calcium flow in the plants and provide the best look yet at their communication systems that would otherwise remain hidden.

“We know there's this systemic signaling system, and if you wound in one place the rest of the plant triggers its defense responses. But we didn't know what was behind this system,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison's Professor of Botany Simon Gilroy.

"We do know that if you wound a leaf, you get an electrical charge, and you get a propagation that moves across the plant," Gilroy adds. What triggered that electric charge, and how it moved throughout the plant, were unknown.”

Researchers found that the warning signal moved quickly, about one millimeter per second. It is fast enough to deliver wound signals in plant cells within a couple of minutes. It takes few more minutes to activate defense mechanism so that the plants can prepare for future attacks by caterpillars or other insects. Understanding how plants respond and defend themselves against insects is crucial for findings ways in which these attacks can be stopped.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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