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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Dr Steve Chivasa

Chivasa, Stephen & Goodman, Heather L. (2020). Stress‐adaptive gene discovery by exploiting collective decision‐making of decentralised plant response systems. New Phytologist 225(6): 2307-2313.

Author(s) from Durham


Despite having a network of cytoplasmic interconnections (plasmodesmata) facilitating rapid exchange of metabolites and signal molecules, plant cells use the extracellular matrix as an alternative route for cell‐cell communication. The need for extracellular signalling in plasmodesmata‐networked tissues is baffling. We propose the hypothesis that this phenomenon defines the plant extracellular matrix as a “democratic space” for collective decision‐making in a decentralised system, similar to quorum‐sensing in bacteria. Extracellular communication enables signal integration and coordination across several cell layers through ligand‐activated plasma membrane receptors. Recent results from drought stress‐adaptive responses and light‐mediated signalling in cell death activation show operational utility of this decision‐making process. We discuss opportunities for new innovations in drought gene discovery using platforms targeting the extracellular matrix.