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Plants use flashes of fluorescent light to warn leaves against insects

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Image result for plant vector graphic public domain From ScienceDaily:

In one video, you can see a hungry caterpillar, first working around a leaf’s edges, approaching the base of the leaf and, with one last bite, severing it from the rest of the plant. Within seconds, a blaze of fluorescent light washes over the other leaves, a signal that they should prepare for future attacks by the caterpillar or its kin.

That fluorescent light tracks calcium as it zips across the plant’s tissues, providing an electrical and chemical signal of a threat. In more than a dozen videos like this, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Botany Simon Gilroy and his lab reveal how glutamate — an abundant neurotransmitter in animals — activates this wave of calcium when the plant is wounded. The videos provide the best look yet at the communication systems within plants that are normally hidden from view.

Imagine that. Communications systems in plants.

In response to each kind of damage, videos show the plants lighting up as calcium flows from the site of damage to other leaves. The signal moved quickly, about one millimeter per second. That’s just a fraction of the speed of animal nerve impulses, but it’s lightning fast in the plant world — quick enough to spread out to other leaves in just a couple minutes. It took just a few more minutes for defense-related hormone levels to spike in distant leaves. These defense hormones help prepare the plant for future threats by, for example, increasing the levels of noxious chemicals to ward off predators.

The study connects decades of research that has revealed how plants, often seen as inert, dynamically respond to threats by preparing distant tissues to deal with future attacks. Glutamate leads to calcium leads to defense hormones and altered growth and biochemistry, all without a nervous system. Paper. (paywall) – Masatsugu Toyota, Dirk Spencer, Satoe Sawai-Toyota, Wang Jiaqi, Tong Zhang, Abraham J. Koo, Gregg A. Howe, Simon Gilroy. Glutamate triggers long-distance, calcium-based plant defense signaling. Science, 2018; 361 (6407): 1112 DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7744 More.

And how much time elapsed during which these intricate systems developed, purely as a result of natural selection acting on random mutations (the official Darwinian view)?

See also: Do host plants tell insects whether to stay or leave?

and

Researcher: Mathematics sheds light on “unfathomably complex” cellular thinking

8 Replies to “Plants use flashes of fluorescent light to warn leaves against insects

  1. 1
    R J Sawyer says:

    To be fair, anyone who has taken a boat through coastal waters at night has plenty of experience with plants glowing. My best example of this was when a fellow grad student stalled a rental van on a tidal bar as the tide was coming in. We couldn’t recover it until after the tide had gone down, well after sunset. We opened the van door and the cloth seats would glow wherever we touched them.

    All due to phytoplankton.

  2. 2
    Amblyrhynchus says:

    Plants use flashes of fluorescent light to warn against insects

    It’s hardly worth pointing out, given the rigour of “News” account, but this is wrong in every detail. The plants don’t use fluorescence (in the experiment the fluorescence is a marker tracking calcium) and the response being measured is not a warning (it’s a signal to other leaves).

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note to researchers using fluorescent tags in their research, is this recent advance that was made in spite of Darwinian presuppositions to the contrary,,, when (biological molecules are) illuminated with visible light, the molecules get excited and light up well enough to be imaged without fluorescent stains. When excited with the right wavelength, they even light up better than they would with the best, most powerful fluorescent labels.

    Researchers discover that DNA naturally fluoresces – August 15, 2016
    Excerpt: For decades, textbooks have stated that macromolecules within living cells, such as DNA, RNA, and proteins, do not fluoresce on their own. Technology instead relies on special fluorescence dyes to enhance contrast when macromolecules are imaged.,,,
    “There are textbooks that say biological molecules don’t absorb light and don’t fluoresce,” said Zhang, associate professor of biological engineering. “It’s what everyone learns; it’s a part of training, so nobody questions it.”,,,
    Backman, Zhang, and Sun discovered that when illuminated with visible light, the molecules get excited and light up well enough to be imaged without fluorescent stains. When excited with the right wavelength, they even light up better than they would with the best, most powerful fluorescent labels.
    “This is ideal because staining is toxic,” Zhang said, “and it makes imaging less precise.”
    This toxicity makes it tricky to get an accurate image of the active processes in living cells because they die immediately after the application of fluorescent stains.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2016-08-d.....esces.html

    A few more notes that are also antagonistic to Darwinian presuppositions:

    The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain – Dec. 17, 2010
    Excerpt: In recent years, a growing body of evidence shows that photons play an important role in the basic functioning of cells. Most of this evidence comes from turning the lights off and counting the number of photons that cells produce. It turns out, much to many people’s surprise, that many cells, perhaps even most, emit light as they work.
    In fact, it looks very much as if many cells use light to communicate. There’s certainly evidence that bacteria, plants and even kidney cells communicate in this way. Various groups have even shown that rats brains are literally alight thanks to the photons produced by neurons as they work.,,,
    ,,, earlier this year, one group showed that spinal neurons in rats can actually conduct light.
    ,, Rahnama and co point out that neurons contain many light sensitive molecules, such as porphyrin rings, flavinic, pyridinic rings, lipid chromophores and aromatic amino acids. In particular, mitochondria, the machines inside cells which produce energy, contain several prominent chromophores.
    The presence of light sensitive molecules makes it hard to imagine how they might not be not influenced by biophotons.,,,
    They go on to suggest that the light channelled by microtubules can help to co-ordinate activities in different parts of the brain. It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work.,,,
    (So) It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....the-brain/

    Strange! Humans Glow in Visible Light – Charles Q. Choi – July 22, 2009
    Schematic illustration of experimental setup that found the human body, especially the face, emits visible light in small quantities that vary during the day. B is one of the test subjects. The other images show the weak emissions of visible light during totally dark conditions. The chart corresponds to the images and shows how the emissions varied during the day. The last image (I) is an infrared image of the subject showing heat emissions.
    http://i.livescience.com/image.....1296086873

    Symphony of Life, Revealed: New Imaging Technique Captures Vibrations of Proteins, Tiny Motions Critical to Human Life – Jan. 16, 2014
    Excerpt: To observe the protein vibrations, Markelz’ team relied on an interesting characteristic of proteins: The fact that they vibrate at the same frequency as the light they absorb.
    This is analogous to the way wine glasses tremble and shatter when a singer hits exactly the right note. Markelz explained: Wine glasses vibrate because they are absorbing the energy of sound waves, and the shape of a glass determines what pitches of sound it can absorb. Similarly, proteins with different structures will absorb and vibrate in response to light of different frequencies.
    So, to study vibrations in lysozyme, Markelz and her colleagues exposed a sample to light of different frequencies and polarizations, and measured the types of light the protein absorbed.
    This technique, , allowed the team to identify which sections of the protein vibrated under normal biological conditions. The researchers were also able to see that the vibrations endured over time, challenging existing assumptions.
    “If you tap on a bell, it rings for some time, and with a sound that is specific to the bell. This is how the proteins behave,” Markelz said. “Many scientists have previously thought a protein is more like a wet sponge than a bell: If you tap on a wet sponge, you don’t get any sustained sound.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....084838.htm

    Here we show that molecules taking part in biochemical processes from small molecules to proteins are critical quantum mechanically. Electronic Hamiltonians of biomolecules are tuned exactly to the critical point of the metal-insulator transition separating the Anderson localized insulator phase from the conducting disordered metal phase. Using tools from Random Matrix Theory we confirm that the energy level statistics of these biomolecules show the universal transitional distribution of the metal-insulator critical point and the wave functions are multifractals in accordance with the theory of Anderson transitions. The findings point to the existence of a universal mechanism of charge transport in living matter. The revealed bio-conductor material is neither a metal nor an insulator but a new quantum critical material which can exist only in highly evolved systems and has unique material properties. –
    Gábor Vattay et al., “Quantum Criticality at the Origin of Life,”
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/decidedly-undarwinian-admissions-re-proteins/

    Quantum criticality in a wide range of important biomolecules – March 2015
    Excerpt: “Most of the molecules taking part actively in biochemical processes are tuned exactly to the transition point and are critical conductors,” they say.
    That’s a discovery that is as important as it is unexpected. “These findings suggest an entirely new and universal mechanism of conductance in biology very different from the one used in electrical circuits.”
    The permutations of possible energy levels of biomolecules is huge so the possibility of finding even one that is in the quantum critical state by accident is mind-bogglingly small and, to all intents and purposes, impossible.,, of the order of 10^-50 of possible small biomolecules and even less for proteins,”,,,
    “what exactly is the advantage that criticality confers?”
    https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/the-origin-of-life-and-the-hidden-role-of-quantum-criticality-ca4707924552

    Biomimicry: Researchers develop metamaterials able to control spread of light – May 10, 2013
    Excerpt: The new metamaterials developed by the team are based on spin optics where photon helicity degeneracy is prevented due to the geometric gradient that exists on their surface. They are also anisotropic—they don’t behave the same way when measured from different directions. Also, unlike current technology, they are polarization-dependent. Together these features cause light waves to propagate in ways not typically seen in current communications equipment. In addition, because of their polarization dependence, design engineers can create new devices that allow for a novel way to control communication devices—by the selection of the polarization of light at the outset. The researchers also report the new materials don’t show inversion symmetry on their surface.,,,
    The new materials were inspired by metallic nanoantennae found in nature, the team reports.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-05-metamaterials.html

    Scientists discover light could exist in a previously unknown form – August 5, 2016
    Excerpt: In normal materials, light interacts with a whole host of electrons present on the surface and within the material. But by using theoretical physics to model the behaviour of light and a recently-discovered class of materials known as topological insulators, Imperial researchers have found that it could interact with just one electron on the surface.
    This would create a coupling that merges some of the properties of the light and the electron. Normally, light travels in a straight line, but when bound to the electron it would instead follow its path, tracing the surface of the material.
    Their models showed that as well as the light taking the property of the electron and circulating the particle, the electron would also take on some of the properties of the light.
    Normally, as electrons are travelling along materials, such as electrical circuits, they will stop when faced with a defect. However, Dr Giannini’s team discovered that even if there were imperfections in the surface of the nanoparticle, the electron would still be able to travel onwards with the aid of the light.
    If this could be adapted into photonic circuits, they would be more robust and less vulnerable to disruption and physical imperfections.
    Dr Giannini said: “The results of this research will have a huge impact on the way we conceive light. Topological insulators were only discovered in the last decade, but are already providing us with new phenomena to study and new ways to explore important concepts in physics.”
    http://phys.org/news/2016-08-s.....known.html

    Bright flash of light marks incredible moment life begins when sperm meets egg – Sarah Knapton, April 26, 2016
    Excerpt: The bright flash occurs because when sperm enters the egg it triggers calcium to increase which releases zinc from the egg. As the zinc shoots out, it binds to small molecules which emit a fluorescence which can be picked up by camera microscopes.
    Over the last six years this team has shown that zinc controls the decision to grow and change into a completely new genetic organism.
    per – telegraph

    ,,, Moreover, Quantum biology is completely incompatible with the reductive materialistic framework that undergirds Darwinian thinking.

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – video
    https://youtu.be/LHdD2Am1g5Y

  4. 4
    polistra says:

    For clarity: The fluorescence is just a tool used by the researchers, and the existence of a communication system isn’t the news. Darwin himself explored the “nervous” system in plants. What these researchers found is that the communication happens by a quick movement of calcium, so that the whole plant is similar to one animal neuron in terms of speed and directness of communication.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    Amblyrhynchus:

    The plants don’t use fluorescence (in the experiment the fluorescence is a marker tracking calcium)…

    Can you nitpick any better?

    From the OP:

    That fluorescent light tracks calcium as it zips across the plant’s tissues…

  6. 6
    Amblyrhynchus says:

    That quote is from the press release. So, the only contribution from News was the headline and an “oh gee isn’t it complex” sentence. And the headline gets the story completely wrong.

    Don’t you think it’s remarkable that a “News” account so frequently gets stories so wrong?

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    If only evolutionism was hard science. But alas.

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    News, if he thinks a signal precludes a warning, I don’t think he’s ‘playing with a full deck’.

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