Rapid, Long-Distance Electrical and Calcium Signaling in Plants

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2016 Apr 29:67:287-307. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-043015-112130. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


Plants integrate activities throughout their bodies using long-range signaling systems in which stimuli sensed by just a few cells are translated into mobile signals that can influence the activities in distant tissues. Such signaling can travel at speeds well in excess of millimeters per second and can trigger responses as diverse as changes in transcription and translation levels, posttranslational regulation, alterations in metabolite levels, and even wholesale reprogramming of development. In addition to the use of mobile small molecules and hormones, electrical signals have long been known to propagate throughout the plant. This electrical signaling network has now been linked to waves of Ca(2+) and reactive oxygen species that traverse the plant and trigger systemic responses. Analysis of cell type specificity in signal propagation has revealed the movement of systemic signals through specific cell types, suggesting that a rapid signaling network may be hardwired into the architecture of the plant.

Keywords: calcium; electrical signaling; reactive oxygen species; systemic acquired acclimation; systemic acquired resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Electricity*
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Calcium