On May 4, the cover of Science featured research conducted by Professor José Feijó and his team from the University of Maryland. The team recently discovered that plant cells use proteins, known as glutamate receptor-like proteins (GLRs), to transmit signals to one another, just like animal cells.
“Our results support the idea that individual plant cells have a level of autonomy that animal cells do not,” said Professor Feijó. The research uncovered that individual plant cells, unlike animal cells, all possess receptors similar to neurons. According to the team, the GLRs collaborate with another type of protein, cornichon proteins, to regulate the concentration of calcium, which acts as a signal pathway. Hence, GLRs contribute to the system by allowing for the transmission and encoding of information within the plant system. Professor Feijó emphasized, “Further progress toward decoding plant communication could result in reliable tests to diagnose diseases, nutrient deficiencies, and other maladies in plants.”