Place: 4274 Chamberlin (refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Simon Gilroy, UW Department of Biology
Abstract: When an animal is wounded, a combination of nerve action supported by neurotransmitters rapidly transmits this information throughout the organism. Similarly, in response to herbivory of one leaf, plants trigger pre-emptive defenses in unwounded tissues but in this case there is no nervous system to propagate the information about damage. Using Arabidopsis plants expressing genetically-encoded bio-probes we have visualized the plant-wide dynamics of changes in cellular Ca2+ that trigger system-wide responses to wounding. These rapid (within seconds), long-range (throughout the plant body) changes are disrupted in mutants in the genes for the plant glutamate like receptor channels, homologs of the glutamate receptor channels of the mammalian nervous system. The patterns of wound signaling can be mimicked by application of the amino acid glutamate (a classic mammalian neurotransmitter). These results suggest that a plant-wide Ca2+ signaling network acts to communicate information about damage throughout the plant body and although plants lack a nervous system, glutamate and glutamate receptor-like channels lie at the core of this long-range plant signaling network.