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With the help of glutamate, calcium ions can flow, carrying their signal through channels that open like floodgates when glutamate fits into these special receptor spaces, like keys in locks. These channels aren’t quite the same as those in the mammalian nervous system, but they look very similar and probably worked similarly. They led Dr. Gilroy and his team to look into calcium ion flow.
To make the action visible, the researchers engineered Arabidopsis plants, botany’s lab rat, to make a protein originally from jellyfish that glows green under a microscope. This sensor, in this case, shines brighter when calcium levels increase.