, Volume 200, Issue 1, pp 50-57

The pathway for systemic electrical signal conduction in the wounded tomato plant

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The pathway of a systemic electrical signal possibly linking wounding and the systemic synthesis of proteinase inhibitor was investigated in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentumMill. cv. Moneymaker) plants. Heat, causing wounding to a cotyledon, was used to induce both a travelling electrical signal and systemic proteinase inhibitor activity. Intracellular recordings of changes in the membrane potential of different cell types were measured in the petiole of leaf 1, the first true leaf, and impaled cells were identified by injection of fluorescent dye (Lucifer Yellow CH). No difference was found between the membrane potentials of the different cell types; the mean membrane potential of all the cell types was -148 ± 3 mV. Only sieve-tube elements and companion cells produced large (79 ± 3.3 mV) action-potential-like depolarisations following wounding, although smaller (23 ± 1.6 mV) depolarisations were observed in other cell types. It was concluded that the electrical signal possibly linking a wound stimulus in a cotyledon with the induction of systemic proteinase inhibitor synthesis was propagated in the sieve-tube element/companion cell complex.

This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK).