Plants Release Animal-like Substance When Stressed

Written by on August 3, 2015 in Earth & Space, Nature, Sci-Tech, Science with 1 Comment

By Jennifer Viegas | Discovery


Although plants do not have nervous systems, they respond to stress with chemical and electrical signals that are remarkably similar to those of animals, a new study has found.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, could help to explain why certain plant-derived drugs work so well in humans.

At the center of it all is the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which humans and animals, as well as plants, release when they are stressed out.

“We’ve known for a long time that the animal neurotransmitter GABA is produced by plants under stress, for example, when they encounter drought, salinity, viruses, acidic soils or extreme temperatures, but it was not known whether GABA was a signal in plants,” senior author Matthew Gilliham of the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine said in a press release.

He continued, “We’ve discovered that plants bind GABA in a similar way to animals, resulting in electrical signals that ultimately regulate plant growth when a plant is exposed to a stressful environment.”

Co-author Stephen Tyerman is optimistic that the discovery could lead to new ways of modifying how plants respond to stress. He explained that most yield losses from agricultural crops come from “major stresses” like pathogens and poor environmental conditions. If the plants succumb to these threats, food shortages may result.

Tyerman further explained that by “identifying how plants use GABA as a stress signal, we have a new tool to help in the global effort to breed more stress-resilient crops to fight food insecurity.”

The researchers suspect that GABA and its interaction with neurotransmitters evolved independently in the plant and animal kingdoms. This is because, while the proteins share many characteristics in common, some aspects of these same proteins are different between plants and animals.

Nevertheless, since the basic GABA signaling system exists within both groups, particular plant-derived drugs and other plant-based products often match well with our health needs. For example, chamomile is thought to bind to GABA receptors, acting as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. As a probable result, this natural ingredient tends to provide a gentle, natural feeling of calmness when consumed.

[Read more here]

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth

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