NeuroGrids developed by Columbia engineers and neuroscientists were recently used by botanists to investigate electrical signals in the Venus flytrap. Images from Armada-Moreira, et al. 2023. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adh4443

The Neuroscience of Venus Flytraps

September 20, 2023

Plants may not have brains, or even nervous systems, but they do send electrical signals through their bodies (even if calling such activity “plant neurobiology” is a bit of a stretch).

But the technology to measure electrical signals in plants is not very advanced.

So when Swedish plant scientists wanted to understand how the carnivorous Venus flytrap plant uses electrical signals to ensnare its prey, they turned to a pair of Columbia neuroscientists for advice.

How to study electrical plants

Venus flytraps catch ants, beetles, and flies when the insects brush against sensory hairs on the inner side of plant’s two lobes. The hairs trigger electrical signals and the two lobes snap together, trapping the prey.

To better understand what triggers the electrical signals and where they go, the plant scientists needed recording devices that could pick up weak signals.

That requirement closely matched the unique recording devices designed and tested by two Columbia scientists—Jennifer Gelinas, MD, PhD, in the Department of Neurology and Dion Khodagholy, PhD, in the Department of Electrical Engineering—to record electrical activity in the brain. [read more]

Source: CUIMC Newsroom