Authors from diverse backgrounds such as molecular and cellular biology, electrophysiology, as well as ecology treat the most important aspects of plant communication, including the plant immune system, abilities of plants to recognize self, signal transduction, receptors, plant neurotransmitters and plant neurophysiology. Further, plants are able to recognize the identity of herbivores and organize the defence responses accordingly. The similarities in animal and plant neuronal/immune systems are discussed too. All these hidden aspects of plant life and behaviour will stimulate further intense investigations in order to understand the communicative plants in their whole complexity.
Plants are sessile organisms that need to continuously coordinate between external and internal cues. This coordination requires the existence of hubs to allow cross-talk between different signaling pathways. A single family of Rho GTPases, termed either ROPS or RACs, and heterotrimeric G proteins have emerged as the major molecular switches in a multitude of signal transduction pathway in plants.
Plants have been an object of study since the roots of the Greek, Chinese and Indian cultures. Since the term “cell” was first coined by Robert Hooke, 350 years ago in Micrographia, the study of plant cell biology has moved ahead at a tremendous pace. The field of cell biology owes its genesis to physics, which through microscopy has been a vital source for piquing scientists’ interest in the biology of the cell. Today, with the technical advances we have made in the field of optics, it is even possible to observe life on a nanoscale. From Hooke’s observations of cells and his inadvertent discovery of the cell wall, we have since moved forward to engineering plants with modified cell walls. Studies on the chloroplast have also gone from Julius von Sachs’ experiments with chloroplast, to using chloroplast engineering to deliver higher crop yields. Similarly, advances in fluorescent microscopy have made it far easier to observe organelles like chloroplast (once studied by Sachs) or actin (observed by Bohumil Nemec). If physics in the form of cell biology has been responsible for one half of this historical development, biochemistry has surely been the other.