* Team Signaling participates at the photo exhibition 'SMART plants for tomorrow's needs' on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of CEPLAS. *
Plants’ immobility requires their quick reaction and adaptation to external stimuli, such as changes in light intensity, availability of water or in response to wounding. Local perception of a stimulus typically triggers a stimulus-specific response as well as the generation of mobile signals. These signals can be transmitted to distal parts of the plant, which did not receive the initial stimulus, and serve to prime remote organs for an imminent threat or stress. Signal transmission can occur as chemical, electrical or hydraulic waves – or a combination thereof. Intriguingly, different types of stimuli can be “encoded” by the same set of signals and yet result in specific adaptations to the stimulus.
Two simple but fundamental questions arise from this scenario:
- What determines the specificity of a stimulus?
- What are the molecular and structural bases that underlie plant long-distance signaling, e.g., in response to herbivory?
My team addresses these questions in Arabidopsis, yeast and moss at the (electro-) physiological, biochemical and genetic level, using a set of methodologies and technologies, including leaf surface potential measurements, genetically encoded biosensors, optogenetics, protein extraction and purification, cryoET and metabolomics.