A team of researchers has recently discovered how plants have their own unique ways of communicating. Although they are not designed with nervous systems, they are adapted to respond to stress with chemical and electrical signals that are highly similar to those of animals.
The findings can be researched in the journal Nature Communications. This could help explain efficiently why certain plant-derived drugs are designed to work so well in humans. Plants can respond to their specific environment with a similar combination of electrical and chemical responses that are also found in animals, but through a unique machinery that is specific to them.
According to the team of experts, the animal neurotransmitter GABA is produced by plants that are facing serious stress conditions. For instance, when they encounter salinity, viruses, droughts, extreme temperatures or acidic soils, plants respond by sending a special batch of signals. What’s more interesting, is that plants “bind GABA in a similar way to animals, resulting in electrical signals that ultimately regulate plant growth when a plant is exposed to a stressful environment”.
The interesting discovery could lead to new paths of understanding how plants respond to stress. Most such signals are triggered by pathogens and poor environmental conditions. If the plants succumb to the threats, food shortages may result.
Researchers are guessing that GABA and its interaction with neurotransmitters have evolved independently in the plant and animal kingdoms. The reason why that happened is because while proteins share many characteristics in common, some particularities of the similar proteins are extremely different between plants and animals.
GABA signaling system can be found in both animals and plants, which means that particular plant-derived drugs and other plant-based products match very well with our health needs. The most relevant example in this matter is chamomile, which binds to GABA receptors and acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This natural ingredient provides a gentle, natural feeling of calmness whenever consumed.
By identifying how plants are designed to respond to GABA, researchers could open many new possibilities for modifying how plants respond to stress. Experts declare that the findings could also explain why particular plant-derived drugs used as anti-epileptics and sedatives in humans can work so well. Maybe the substances will be better synthetized, for a better, stronger and greater effect on for our health issues.
Image Source: gardenguides.com