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Department of Plant Sciences



Supervisor: Professor Julia Davies


Extracellular ATP (eATP) is an important neurotransmitter in humans and has now been found to be a plant cell regulator. ATP is released to the extracellular space to act as a growth regulator and stress signal (particularly for wounding and pathogen attack). We were the first to show that eATP causes an increase in cytosolic free calcium as a potential second messenger and have since shown that in roots it generates a propagative calcium wave from the tip. We now need to find out how the wave is generated downstream of the eATP receptor and what the consequences are for leaves in terms of an adaptive response. Whilst this section of the project would use Arabidopsis, we also need to determine if eATP signalling employs calcium as a second messenger in crops. To this end we have generated a wheat line expressing a cytosolic calcium reporter and have also identified putative eATP receptor genes in wheat. The encoding proteins now need to be tested for receptor activity.



  • Choi, J., et al. (2014) Identification of a Plant Receptor for Extracellular ATP. Science 343, 290–294. doi/10.1126/science.343.6168.290
  • Matthus, E., et al. (2019) DORN1/P2K1 and Purino-calcium Signalling in Plants; Making Waves with Extracellular ATP. Annals of Botany 124 (7), 1227-1242.
  • Matthus, E., et al. (2019) Phosphate Starvation Alters Abiotic-stress-induced Cytosolic Free Calcium Increase in Roots. Plant Physiology 179, 1754-1767.