Recent evidence demonstrates that plants are able not only to perceive and adaptively respond to external information but also to anticipate forthcoming hazards and stresses. Here, we tested the hypothesis that unstressed plants are able to respond to stress cues emitted from their abiotically-stressed neighbors and in turn induce stress responses in additional unstressed plants located further away from the stressed plants. Pisum sativum plants were subjected to drought while neighboring rows of five unstressed plants on both sides, with which they could exchange different cue combinations. On one side, the stressed plant and its unstressed neighbors did not share their rooting volumes (UNSHARED) and thus were limited to shoot communication. On its other side, the stressed plant shared one of its rooting volumes with its nearest unstressed neighbor and all plants shared their rooting volumes with their immediate neighbors (SHARED), allowing both root and shoot communication. Fifteen minutes following drought induction, significant stomatal closure was observed in both the stressed plants and their nearest unstressed SHARED neighbors, and within one hour, all SHARED neighbors closed their stomata. Stomatal closure was not observed in the UNSHARED neighbors. The results demonstrate that unstressed plants are able to perceive and respond to stress cues emitted by the roots of their drought-stressed neighbors and, via 'relay cuing', elicit stress responses in further unstressed plants. Further work is underway to study the underlying mechanisms of this new mode of plant communication and its possible adaptive implications for the anticipation of forthcoming abiotic stresses by plants.
|State||Published - 2 Nov 2011|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)