It has now been 175 years since anaesthesia was used on humans, but we still don’t know much about its mechanism. It was introduced to serve a medical purpose, but an anaesthetic drug’s effects on the nervous system are not apparent. We, as curious human beings, want to know the reason behind it. Well, researchers have claimed that plants have a similar effect when anaesthesia drugs get injected into them.
How it all started?
One day, a group of experts planned to understand how anaesthesia can affect a Venus flytrap, a thorny plant. Yes, the small herb that resembles a banana tree is an excellent example of understanding predictable movement. The experts hit it with ether and lidocaine and waited to see its response. The professionals were interested in seeing it react like humans.
What was the outcome?
It is a common belief that animals and plants are separated by 1.5 billion years of evolution. But the important thing is that they have many similarities. The cell structures are almost the same. However, to fix plants, chloroplasts and cell walls are used. Plants are homogeneous, while animals have evolved discrete internal organs and muscles for processing nutrients.
What are lidocaine and ether?
Animals have neurons, but plants do not. However, plants have lidocaine that affects sensations and movements. Lidocaine is an entirely different type of cell and follows a similar mechanism in both animals and plants. Lidocaine and ether are different chemicals, but they work as anaesthetic drugs in animals and plants. In animals, this becomes quite messy, and somehow the anaesthesia stops them from communicating. But plants are quite different, and we have found that either one works on them.
What is the difference between plants and animals?
Plant cells have membranes to control what substances can enter or leave their cells. They are similar to animal membranes, but the molecules are different. They are similar but work in different ways. However, ether works well in plants. This is the summary given by experts about ether. Experts have now discovered that it works perfectly well in plants, which was previously unknown.
Pea tendrils, mimosa leaves, sundew traps, and venus flytraps have touch-induced and autonomous movements by exposure to anaesthetics. In the venus flytrap, it is because of the loss of action potential. Anaesthetics also impede chlorophyll accumulation and inhibited seed germination in cress seedlings.
Plants react to various anaesthetics that do not have structural similarities. While research is still being carried out on the effects of anaesthesia in plants, it will help us know everything about how it works. You know how the human body reacts to anaesthesia and how to wake up a person under anaesthesia. However, the reasoning behind how it works is unknown and plants can be the way to finding an answer. It is similar to how we knew gravity existed but did not know how to calculate it until the formula was discovered. Similarly, with anaesthesia, we will have to wait to get more information about it.
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