Chemical signals that propagate along leaves, branches and stem, like an alarm, more: a sort of nervous system similar to that of animals. The discovery, recently published in the journal Science, was made by a research group of the American University of Wisconsin-Madison. The team, coordinated by Masatsugu Toyota and Simon Gilroy, in collaboration with the Japanese Science and Technology Agency, the State University of Michigan and the University of Missouri, has observed and photographed the phenomenon for the first time.
The video published on Youtube by the researchers shows the reaction of an Arabidopsis thaliana plant to the attack of a caterpillar. When the insect began to bite the leaf, a fluorescent signal was propagated from the leaf that reached the rest of the plant at a speed of one millimeter per second.
To bring the signal, they discovered the researchers, it was glutamate; to push the neurotransmitters, calcium ions. Thanks to the use of a protein that becomes fluorescent in the presence of the latter, it has been possible to observe the phenomenon, which represents a sort of defense system.
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