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In plants, channels set the rhythm

Although plants are anchored to the ground, they spend most of their lifetime swinging in the wind. Like animals, plants have ‘molecular switches’ on the surface of their cells that transduce a mechanical signal into an electrical one in milliseconds.

In animals, sound vibrations activate ‘molecular switches’ located in the ear. Scientists fromI2BC Labex SPS (CNRS-Université Paris-Saclay) in collaboration with scientists from LadHyX, LMS (CNRS-Ecole Polytechnique) and PIAF (INRAE-Université Clermont Auvergne) have found that in plants, rapid oscillations of stems and leaves due to wind may activate these ‘switches’ very effectively. They could allow plants to ‘listen’ to the wind. This is a key advantage in preparing them for storms, by modulating their growth. This work was early published in PNAS on December 28, 2020.

Plants are endowed with mechanosensitive channels such as MSL that transduce mechanical oscillations into electrical signals. In static condition, the cell membrane of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana is hardly solicited, and the MSL10 ‘switch’ shows little activity (left-hand side). When the membrane is subjected to an oscillatory pressure mimicking the effect of the wind, the switch becomes more active (oscillation, right-hand side). This is shown schematically on the diagram in the bottom right of the figure. © Jean-Marie Frachisse and Daniel Tran, I2BC

Reference :
Cellular transduction of mechanical oscillations in plants by the plasma-membrane mechanosensitive channel MSL10.
Daniel Tran, Tiffanie Girault, Marjorie Guichard, Sébastien Thomine, Nathalie Leblanc-Fournier, Bruno Moulia, Emmanuel de Langre, Jean-Marc Allain, Jean-Marie Frachisse.
PNAS (2021) 118 (1) : e1919402118
DOI : 10.1073/pnas.1919402118

Contact :
Jean-Marie Frachisse

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