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Disclosing the molecular bases of electrical signalling in plants


A plant needs to be able to communicate between its various parts so as to enable one part of the plant to inform the rest of any detected stimulus. This allows a co-ordinated physiological response to any external stimuli.
Electrical signals such as action potentials (APs) are by far the fastest signalling mechanisms in plants. They are able to broadcast information rapidly throughout a plant, so the whole plant can be almost instantaneously notified of any impending threat or change in circumstance. Thus, APs could be vital in the response of plants to environmental stress.
Despite their importance, huge questions remain about the mechanisms behind electrical signalling. Although there is a model for the generation and propagation of plant APs, which involves the cellular influx of calcium and efflux of chloride and potassium through ion channels, little is known about the molecular identify or the regulation of these channels. This is despite the rapidly increasing knowledge about ion transport mechanisms in model plant species such as Arabidopsis thaliana.
Focusing on APs in Arabidopsis, this project aims to fill this gap, with the overall aim of “providing a model describing the molecular mechanisms underlying the inception and the propagation of electrical signals in plant tissues”.
This project will therefore bring together ion transport mechanisms and electrical signalling in Arabidopsis. The involvement and the regulation of the ion channels involved in mediating ion fluxes during an AP will be intensively investigated, resulting finally in a mathematical model of electrical signalling in plants. The proposal will bring together three groups with expertise in (i) molecular electrophysiology of plant ion channels, (ii) electrophysiology, especially in relation to electrical signalling and (iii) computer-assisted mathematical modelling of plant biological processes, along with a returning European electrophysiologist with expertise in ion transport.

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
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Jocelyn Méré (Mr.)
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