Researchers at Saitama University in Japan discovered that plants employ a systemic emergency broadcast system in response to unsafe situations. Microbiologists Yuri Aratani and Takuya Uemura used fluorescence imaging to show that injured plants used calcium signaling to warn healthy plants of imminent danger.
Scientists used fluorescence imaging to visualize calcium signalling in Arabidopsis thaliana, a common weed, exposed to airborne chemicals released by another injured plant.
The plants used were common weeds that were genetically altered to light up with the imaging.
These plants weren’t any ordinary weeds: they had been genetically altered so their cells contained a biosensor that fluoresced green when an influx of calcium ions was detected. Calcium signaling is something human cells use to communicate too.