How plants react to pressure waves: unraveling responses to acoustic and mechanical signals in Arabidopsis thaliana

01 November 2021 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Plant cell and molecular biology
    • Plant morphology, anatomy and physiology
Perception of acoustic waves in plants Identification of signaling components Elucidation of mechanoperception in plants
Project description

As plants are sessile, they are sensitive to almost every possible cue in their environment. Recent research confirmed that plants also perceive sound. However, the molecular mechanism behind sound perception is obscure. It needs to be understood how plant senses sound vibrations and what molecular changes occur thereafter that ultimately lead to the responses. My FWO-project investigates the involvement of trichomes (at the organ level) and mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels (cellular level) in the perception of sound in Arabidopsis thaliana. This entails comparing the expression of sound-related marker genes between wild-type plants and trichome mutants, and performing a functional sound screen with MS ion channel mutants. The latter will also be exploited in a functional mechanosensing screen to identify the MS channel involved in mechanoperception. We will next explore the involvement of calcium ions (Ca2+), Respiratory Burst Oxidase Homologue (RBOH), Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and ethylene in sound signaling. There are leads that Ca2+ and ROS concentrations increase upon sound exposure. We will visualize their temporal and spatial changes upon sound exposure using genetically encoded fluorescent probes. Different RBOH mutants will be used to determine which RBOH enzyme produces ROS in sound signaling. Last but not least, ethylene measurements post sound treatment will investigate the role of this phytohormone in sound signaling.