The messages start at the point of attack, where glutamate initiates a wave of calcium that propagates through the plant’s veins, or plumbing system. The deluge turns on stress hormones and genetic switches that open plant arsenals and prepare the plant to ward off attackers — with no thought or movement.
Like animals, plants are eukaryotes — multicellular organisms — that split from a common ancestor called Luca billions of years ago. To survive, we all sense threats, relay messages about them within our bodies or tissues and respond to these challenges. Our actions vary, adapted for the lifestyles we maintain in different environments, but much of our basic cellular machinery is the same. Biology kept it that way: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
One mechanism our cells share is fluctuating levels of calcium ions, which carry an electrical charge. In humans, this charge assists in controlling when your neurons fire messages. Changes in calcium ions make your heart beat or your muscles contract so you can get up and leave when something threatens you.