Scientists discover plants can be put to sleep during surgery

Publish on: 2018-02-06 10:59:45 AM
Mukul | risingbd.com

Risingbd Desk: Plants may not be so much unlike animals or humans after all.

That's one conclusion scientists have reached from a recent study where they tested anesthetics on a variety of different plants.

A team of researchers from the University of Florence and Germany's University of Bonn found that plants respond to anesthetics the same way that humans and animals do.

The scientists exposed Venus flytraps, Mimosa leaves (also referred to as the 'shy plant'), pea tendrils and sundew plants to ether, a common anesthetic.

In other cases, they soaked the roots of some plants with lidocaine.

The goal was to try out different methods of anesthesia with no structural similarities to demonstrate that the plants' reactions weren't coincidental or circumstantial.

More importantly, they wanted to prove that plants react to anesthesia in the same way that humans and animals do.

'The fact that plant cells responded to these compounds in a similar manner to animals and humans is intriguing,' the scientists wrote in the study.

To document this, the scientists used a single-lens reflex camera to follow organ movements in plants before, during and after recover from exposure to different anesthetics, the scientists said.

Each of the plants seemed to react in a similar fashion, by becoming immobile or not responding to touch in their typical manner.

For example, the Venus flytrap is famous for closing its jaw-like leaves when it senses an insect or prey nearby.

But when it was doused with an anesthetic, an interesting phenomenon occurred.

The scientists measured the electrical activity of a flytrap's cells and found that it had lost its 'action potentials,' meaning that the spiky trap, or its 'trigger hairs,' didn't close when poked.

Action potentials are 'necessary' to close the plant's trap and to initiate the digestive process, according to the study. 

After the ether was gradually removed, it took about 900 seconds for the Venus flytrap to return to its normal state.

The flytrap demonstrated for 'the first time ever' that to immobilize plants, you have to inhibit their action potentials.

'In other words, as in animals and humans, bioelectricity and action potentials animate not only humans and animals but also plants,' the scientists said.

A similar effect was produced when the scientists exposed the Mimosa pudica, or 'shy plant,' to ether.

After about an hour of exposure, the plant 'completely lost the response to touch stimuli,' the scientists said.

Unlike the flytrap, however, it took the mimosa plant seven hours before it was able to regain consciousness.

Scientists have largely been unable to determine how anesthetics are able to render humans, animals and plants unconscious.

The study revealed that the common effect may be due to the drugs impacting our cell membranes, causing them to become more flexible, according to the New York Times.

Frantisek Baluska, a co-author of the study, told the Times that it's unclear what is altering the membrane function in plants.

What is clear is that the membrane function controls the transferring of messages via electricity from one cell to another, which is what causes plants to move.

A team of researchers from the University of Florence and Germany's University of Bonn found that plants respond to anesthetics the same way that humans and animals do.

The scientists exposed Venus flytraps, Mimosa leaves (also referred to as the 'shy plant'), pea tendrils and sundew plants to ether, a common anesthetic.

Each of the plants seemed to react in a similar fashion, by becoming immobile or not responding to touch in their typical manner.

For example, the Venus flytrap is famous for closing its jaw-like leaves when it senses an insect or prey nearby.

But when it was doused with an anesthetic, an interesting phenomenon occurred.

Similarly, a pea plant was exposed to certain levels of anesthesia. As a result, its leaves curled inward and it became immobile.


Typically, the pea plant's leaves 'search,' or move, autonomously. The scientists say the study has helped shed light on how plants react to anesthesia in a similar way to animals and humans.

'Plants are not just robotic, stimulus-response devices,' Baluska told the Times.

'They're living organisms which have their own problems, maybe something like with humans feeling pain or joy'.

'In order to navigate this complex life, they must have some compass,' Baluska added.  

The study could also show how plants could one day replace animals as objects for testing anesthesia.

Scientists have discovered in the past that testing anesthesia on animals can produce ineffective results, while testing the drugs on plants might prove to produce more reliable data.

Source: The Mail


risingbd/Feb 6, 2018/Mukul

 

 

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