Electrical Long-Distance Signaling in Plants

  • Matthias R. Zimmermann
  • Axel Mithöfer
Part of the Signaling and Communication in Plants book series (SIGCOMM, volume 19)


In higher plants at least three different types of electrical long-distance signaling exist: action potential (AP), variation potential (VP), and system potential (SP), all of which have their own characteristics concerning their generation, duration, amplitude, velocity, and propagation. Whereas both AP and VP are due to a transient depolarization of the plasma membrane, the SP is based on hyperpolarization. For more than 100 years the AP is known and described for some specialized plants such as the Venus flytrap. Meanwhile, all three types of electrical signaling have been shown for many common plants, monocots as well as dicots, indicating that the capability to generate long-distance electrical signals is not the exception but a general physiological feature of plants. In spite of this, positive proofs for the involvement of these kinds of electrical signaling in the induction of many different plant responses to (a)biotic stresses or in developmental processes still wait to be established.


Action potential Variation potential System potential Downstream signaling DIR1 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Botanisches Institut IJustus-Liebig-UniversitätGießenGermany
  2. 2.Bioorganische ChemieMax-Planck-Institut für Chemische ÖkologieJenaGermany

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