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Int Rev Cytol. 2007;257:43-82.

Action potential in charophytes.

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School of Physics, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


The plant action potential (AP) has been studied for more than half a century. The experimental system was provided mainly by the large charophyte cells, which allowed insertion of early large electrodes, manipulation of cell compartments, and inside and outside media. These early experiments were inspired by the Hodgkin and Huxley (HH) work on the squid axon and its voltage clamp techniques. Later, the patch clamping technique provided information about the ion transporters underlying the excitation transient. The initial models were also influenced by the HH picture of the animal AP. At the turn of the century, the paradigm of the charophyte AP shifted to include several chemical reactions, second messenger-activated channel, and calcium ion liberation from internal stores. Many aspects of this new model await further clarification. The role of the AP in plant movements, wound signaling, and turgor regulation is now well documented. Involvement in invasion by pathogens, chilling injury, light, and gravity sensing are under investigation.

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