About this Research Topic
The capability to generate long-distance transmission of electrical signals is no longer regarded as anecdotal or an irrelevant feature of plants. Recent genetic, electrophysiological, and imaging work on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana has led to a revival in the interest for this phenomenon. These electrical signals are likely of enormous importance in determining the dynamics of the interactions between plants and their environment, including herbivorous insects, and it is likely that they play many other functions thorough the plant life cycle. Since multi-cellularity evolved independently in plants and animals, the characterization of the molecular and mechanistic aspects of these signals will be valuable to understanding central aspects of electrical transmission in biological systems, as well as providing insight into the unique aspects of these signaling networks in plants.
Recent investigations of the transmission of these signals in the shoot and the root of plants, both with electrophysiological tools as well as with genetic indicators of calcium signals, have begun to unveil different molecular and cellular players. Glutamate receptor-like channels were some of the first molecular effectors to be identified for these signals. However, other proteins involved in the generation and transmission of action potentials and variation potentials that are transmitted between distant parts of the plant still await discovery. A further important aspect that still is not understood is the mechanism, or mechanisms, that allow these signals to travel between different plant regions, and whether/how they are transmitted between different cell types in a given region. Once delivered, precisely how these electrical changes are translated into the appropriate systemic response is also far from being fully understood.
The goal of this Research Topic is to review, compare, and debate theoretical and experimental investigations of electrical signalling in plants at the molecular, cellular and systemic levels, with emphasis on electrical signals that are transmitted between cells. We also encourage studies that ask whether these electrical signals can be transmitted between plants. By bringing together researchers seeking to understand the many aspects of the inter-cellular transmission of electrical signals in plants we aim at promoting new interactions between still disconnected sub-areas of research within the field. Although work on Arabidopsis has driven many recent molecular insights in this area we appreciate the many advances that can be drawn from other plant species. We welcome original research, as well as methodological, theoretical, review and perspective contributions from molecular, cellular, system, ecological, and computational research.
Keywords: Ion channel, plant, electrophysiology, membrane, action potential, phloem, electrical transmission, signaling, stress, variation potential
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