L’École polytechnique: Towards an understanding of the reaction of plants to the wind

While it is obvious that plants adapt their growth to the wind, the mechanisms of wind perception still need to be elucidated. In their study, Jean-Marc Allain, Jean-Marie Frachisse and Bruno Moulia, highlight a receptor that transduces movement induced by the wind into an electrical signal at the cellular level.

Electrical response of the “switch” MSL10 of the Arabidopsis thaliana model plant solicited by a continuous stimulation or by a stimulation mimicking the wind. © Frachisse Jean-Marie and Tran Daniel, Institute of Integrative Cell Biology (I2BC*).

The adaptation of plant growth to the wind is a complex phenomenon that is still being studied today. A step towards understanding this mechanism has just been taken by Jean-Marie Frachisse from the Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell (I2BC*), Jean-Marc Allain from the Solid Mechanics Laboratory (LMS*), Bruno Moulia from the Laboratory of Integrative Physics and Physiology of the Tree in Fluctuating Environments (PIAF*) and their team, who show in their latest study that a specific receptor is responsible for the transformation at the cellular level of the mechanical signal (here the wind) into an electrical signal. This research involves also Emmanuel de Langre, director of the Hydrodynamics Laboratory (LadHyX*).

This receptor, called MSL10, is a channel that creates an electric current when it is opened. This occurs when it is subjected to a recurrent pressure similar in intensity and frequency to that which the plant experiences when exposed to the wind. The study of only one receiver at a time is possible thanks to a technique known as “patch-clamp”, which makes it possible to keep an intact fragment of the membrane of a cell and has made it possible to demonstrate the characteristics of MSL10.

This study therefore makes it possible to affirm that plants are sensitive to oscillations via the MSL10 receptor when exposed to wind. This research is therefore a further step in the understanding of the reactions of plants to their environment and underlines the importance of a family of receptors that is still poorly understood.

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