GLUTAMATE RECEPTOR-LIKE genes mediate leaf-to-leaf wound signalling


Wounded leaves communicate their damage status to one another through a poorly understood process of long-distance signalling. This stimulates the distal production of jasmonates, potent regulators of defence responses. Using non-invasive electrodes we mapped surface potential changes in Arabidopsis thaliana after wounding leaf eight and found that membrane depolarizations correlated with jasmonate signalling domains in undamaged leaves. Furthermore, current injection elicited jasmonoyl-isoleucine accumulation, resulting in a transcriptome enriched in RNAs encoding key jasmonate signalling regulators. From among 34 screened membrane protein mutant lines, mutations in several clade 3 GLUTAMATE RECEPTOR-LIKE genes (GLRs 3.2, 3.3 and 3.6) attenuated wound-induced surface potential changes. Jasmonate-response gene expression in leaves distal to wounds was reduced in a glr3.3 glr3.6 double mutant. This work provides a genetic basis for investigating mechanisms of long-distance wound signalling in plants and indicates that plant genes related to those important for synaptic activity in animals function in organ-to-organ wound signalling.

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Figure 1: WASPS and JAZ10 expression map to identical spatial domains.
Figure 2: Current injection (CI) induces jasmonate accumulation, gene expression and surface potential changes in leaf 8.
Figure 3: Current injection and wounding stimulate the expression of a common JAZ gene-enriched subset of genes.
Figure 4: glr mutants reduce the duration of WASPs, and responses to current injection.

Accession codes


Gene Expression Omnibus

Data deposits

Gene expression data are available in the GEO database under accession number GSE41779.


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Supported by a Faculty of Biology and Medicine Interdisciplinary grant (to S.K. and E.E.F.) and Swiss NSF grants 3100A0-122441 and 31003A-138235 (to E.E.F.). We thank I. Acosta, D. Gasperini, S. Stolz and A. Chételat and other Farmer lab members for critical comments and/or technical help, M. Blanchard for help with electrophysiology, and the Lausanne Genomic Technologies Facility and M. Shakhsi-Niaei for help with transcriptome analyses. We thank Y. Lee and F. Mauch for rbohD seeds, P. Schweizer and P. Reymond for insect larvae, J.-L. Wolfender for analytics support, and R. Benton, C. Fankhauser, N. Geldner, C. Hardtke and Y. Poirier for valuable comments.

Author information




S.A.R.M., A.C., F.P. and S.K. performed experiments; E.E.F., S.A.R.M. and S.K. conceived experiments; E.E.F. and S.K. wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Edward E. Farmer.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Insect- and mechanical-damage-induced membrane depolarizations.

a, The setup showing the ring cage around the insect (S. littoralis) and the position of the recording electrodes (e2 and e3) on leaf 8. b, Surface potential recording from electrode e2 while S. littoralis walked on the leaf. c, Typical surface potential changes recorded on electrode e3 during S. littoralis feeding. The arrowheads indicate periodicity in the signal. d, A proportion of WASPs induced by mechanical damage show periodicity. Filled arrowhead, time of wounding. The apical 40% of leaf 8 was wounded with forceps. Periodicity (unfilled arrowheads) was seen in 61% (n = 110) of experiments. e, Chilling-induced depolarization generated by gently placing water (150 μl, 0 °C) onto leaf 8 at the time indicated with the arrowhead. Chilling induced a change in surface potential in 3 out of 7 recordings. f, Typical WASP of the same polarity. For d, e and f the recording electrode was on leaf 8 at position e3 (Fig. 1a in the main text). g, Amplitude of the change in surface potential (± s.d.) induced by wounding or by cold water. Source data

Extended Data Figure 2 Apparent heterogeneity in WASP velocities.

a, WASP characteristics in wounded leaf 8. b, Wound-activated surface potential changes in leaves 5, 9, 11, 13 and 16. Leaf 8 was wounded and surface potentials were monitored in distal leaves with electrodes placed on these leaves at position e3′. For leaf 8 the monitoring electrode was at position e2. W, wounded; x, number of experiments in which amplitudes of surface potentials exceeded −10 mV. Values are means ± s.d. c, Leaf-to-leaf signal speeds. Leaves 8 or 12 (the largest rosette leaves in 6-week-old plants) were chosen for estimating the apparent velocities of signals that travel within the wounded leaf. For leaf-to-leaf recordings, leaf 8 was wounded and recordings were made both on this leaf and on leaf 13. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by Bonferroni post-hoc test showed that the WASP speed indicated in cm min−1 along the midrib and petiole within a leaf was not significantly different between leaves 8, 12 and 13, but was faster than the overall signalling speed from leaf 8 to leaf 13, and the signal speed from the wound to the lamina electrode (eL). Source data

Extended Data Figure 3 Wounding young leaves triggers WASPs and JAZ10 expression in older leaves.

a, Electrode placements on leaves 8 (e3), 9 (e4) and 13 (e5). b, Typical changes in surface potential in leaves 8, 9 and 13 after wounding leaf 13. Arrowhead shows the time of wounding (W). c, WASP amplitudes (± s.d.) after wounding of leaf 13. d, WASP durations (± s.d.) after wounding of leaf 13. e, JAZ10 expression 1 h after wounding leaf 13 (± s.d.). U, unwounded leaves; W, wounded leaf 13. ***P < 0.001 (± s.d.). Source data

Extended Data Figure 4 Effects of interrupting WASP propagation on JAZ10 expression.

a, Experimental design: electrodes were placed on the midrib (e2) and petiole base (e3) of leaf 8, and on leaf 9 (e4) and leaf 13 (e5). 40% of leaf 8 was wounded. b, WASP traces for leaves 9 (non-parastichious) and leaf 13 (connected) provoked by wounding leaf 8. The first pair of traces was recorded when leaf 8 was severed upon detection of a signal at e2 and before a WASP was detected at e3. The second pair of traces was recorded when the WASP generated by wounding leaf 8 was allowed to reach e3 and the leaf was then severed immediately. c, JAZ10 expression in unwounded leaves (U), wounded leaf 8 (W) and leaves 9 and 13. Left of dashed line: JAZ10 levels in leaves 8, 9 and 13 of intact control plants 1 h after wounding leaf 8. Right of the dashed line: plants in which the wounded leaf 8 was severed when WASPs were detected at e2 but were not allowed to reach electrode e3 (cut no WASP) or when WASPs were allowed to reach e3 before severing leaf 8 (cut WASP). ***P < 0.001 (± s.d.). Note: compared to crush-wounding, severing the petioles of otherwise undamaged leaves with sharp blades does not activate jasmonate signalling strongly in distal leaves. Source data

Extended Data Figure 5 Current injection does not cause cell death in the lamina but elicits surface potential changes.

ac, Trypan blue staining. a, Undamaged leaf. b, Pt wires inserted but no current injected. c, Current-injected leaf. Leaves were harvested 1 h after current injection. Cells were killed around the Pt wires (arrowheads) but CI did not cause increased staining of the lamina. Scale bars in boxes, 200 μm. d, Ion leakage analysis after current injection (CI). For controls leaves were either untreated or implanted with Pt wires and connected to three surface electrodes on the laminas (no CI). A further set of leaves was prepared identically but subjected to CI (40 μA, 10 s; CI) and harvested 1 h later for conductivity analyses. Positive controls: leaves infiltrated with 20 μl Triton X-100 (1% v/v in water) 1 h before harvest (‘TX-100 infiltration’). For analysis, leaves were excised at the base of the petiole and attached so that only their laminas were bathed in deionised water (25 ml) for 20 min at 22 °C. A control for the Triton X-100 infiltration was 20 μl Triton X-100 (1% v/v in water; TX-100 control), ± s.d. d, Surface potential changes in different parts of leaf 8 generated by current injection. Current (40 μA, 10 s) was injected into the petiole of leaf 8 (see Fig. 2a in the main text for electrode placements). x/n = the number of experiments in which signal amplitudes exceeded −10 mV/total number of experiments. Values are means ± s.d. Source data

Extended Data Figure 6 WASP generation in jasmonate biosynthesis and perception mutants.

a, Typical recording from leaf 8 of the wild type after wounding the leaf tip. b, A typical recording from leaf 8 of the allene oxide synthase (aos) mutant after similar damage. In both cases the recording electrode was placed at position e3 (shown in Fig. 1a in the main text) before wounding the apical 40% of leaf 8. Arrowheads indicate the time of wound infliction (W). c, WASP amplitude (± s.d.) in wild-type and aos plants. d, Surface potential changes following CI (40 μA for 10 s) in the coronatine-insensitive 1-1 (coi1-1) mutant. Art, artefacts recorded in the leaf during CI (bar = 10 s). Note that the signal amplitude at eP reaches a maximum before that at eD and eL. For electrode placements see Fig. 2a. e, Relative JAZ10 levels in wounded WT and in the coi1-1 mutant that had been wounded or into which current (40 µA, 10 s) had been injected. Leaves were harvested 1 h after wounding or current injection. U, unwounded; W, wounded; CI, current injection. Significant differences from the unwounded wild type are indicated, *P < 0.05, ***P < 0.001 (± s.d.). Source data

Extended Data Figure 7 Selected genes for which expression was altered upon current injection.

a, List of the JAZ genes that were upregulated 1 h after current injection (CI) into leaf 8 (this study), in leaf 13 at 1 h after wounding leaf 8 (this study), or in wounded leaves of 18-day-old plants (from ref. 32). b, Venn diagram showing downregulated (>twofold, P < 0.05) genes for current injected leaf 8 (this study), for leaf 13 from plants wounded on leaf 8 (this study), and for wounded rosette leaves (‘rosette after wounding’, from ref. 32). c, List of common genes that were downregulated more than twofold (P ≤ 0.05) 1 h after current injection into leaf 8 (this study), in leaf 13 1 h after wounding leaf 8 (leaf 13, this study), and in wounded leaves of 18-day-old plants (ref. 32), FC, fold change.

Extended Data Figure 8 Effect of inhibitors and rbohD on WASP generation and JAZ10 expression.

ac, Inhibitors were tested for their effects on WASP generation. a, Diphenyleneiodonium chloride (DPI; 50 μM in H2O containing 1% v/v DMSO), b, catalase (100 U μl−1 in H2O) and c, lanthanum chloride (LaCl3, 2 mM in H2O) were infiltrated into leaf 8 at 25–30 min before wounding. After wounding leaf 8, WASP amplitude and duration were measured on leaf 13. For controls leaf 8 was infiltrated only with carrier. *P < 0.05 (± s.d.). d, JAZ10 transcript levels in leaf 13 following infiltration of DPI (50 μM in H2O containing 1% v/v DMSO) into leaf 8 followed 30 min later by wounding leaf 8 (± s.e.m.). Controls (CON) were infiltrated with carrier. e, Similar wound-induced expression of JAZ10 in WT and rbohD plants. Plants (wild type or rbohD-dSpm) were wounded on leaf 8 (W). After 1 h leaves 8 and 13 were harvested and JAZ10 expression measured by qRT–PCR (± s.d.). U, unwounded; W, wounded. Source data

Extended Data Figure 9 Characterization of wound-activated surface potential changes (WASPs) in homozygous T-DNA insertion lines.

Leaf 8 was wounded and the surface potential was monitored in leaf 8 and distal leaf 13. For leaf 8, an electrode was placed 3 cm from the leaf apex wound (Fig. 1a, position e3). All measurements for leaf 13 were from electrodes placed on the petiole 1 cm from the centre of the rosette (position e3′ in Extended Data Fig. 2c). n, number of experiments. Values are means ± s.d. Mutants displaying WASP durations of <60 s in leaf 8 or <40 s in leaf 13 are highlighted.

Extended Data Figure 10 Relative expression levels of GLRs in the wild type and in T-DNA insertion lines.

a, Level of GLR3.1 transcripts in glr3.1a (Salk_063873). b, Level of GLR3.2 transcripts in glr3.2a (Salk_150710) and glr3.2b (Salk_133700). c, Level of GLR3.3 transcripts in glr3.3a (Salk_099757), glr3.3b (Salk_077608) and double mutant glr3.3a glr3.6a. d, Level of GLR3.6 transcripts in glr3.6a (Salk_091801), glr3.6b (Salk_035353) and double mutant glr3.3a glr3.6a. In all cases leaves were harvested from unwounded plant. Significant differences to the wild type are indicated, *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, ***P < 0.001 (± s.d.). e, RT–PCR analyses of the expression pattern of GLR3.3 and GLR3.6 genes in glr3.3a glr3.6a and glr3.3b glr3.6a double mutants. UBC21 was the reference transcript. Source data

Supplementary information

Supplementary Data

Gene expression in response to current injection or wounding: The file contains a list of genes that were upregulated more than 2-fold (P ≤ 0.05) in leaf 8 1h after injecting current into leaf 8 (this study), in leaf 13 1h after wounding leaf 8 (this study), and in wounded leaves of 18 d-old plants 1 h after wound infliction32, FC=fold change (upregulated), ci = current injection, no ci = no current injection. (XLSX 30 kb)

Insect-induced electrical activity in Arabidopsis.

Three Spodoptera littoralis larvae were placed on leaf 8 of a 5 week-old plant within a ring barrier. Surface potentials measured at the two electrodes are shown. A clock is displayed at upper right. The x-axis in ms and the y-axis is in V. Note that events that are recorded at the proximal electrode precede those recorded at the distal electrode and that the signal recorded at the distal electrode is simpler that at the proximal electrode. The video has been edited to shorten it. (MP4 14087 kb)

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Mousavi, S., Chauvin, A., Pascaud, F. et al. GLUTAMATE RECEPTOR-LIKE genes mediate leaf-to-leaf wound signalling. Nature 500, 422–426 (2013).

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