Electrotonic and action potentials in the Venus flytrap

Alexander G. Volkov, Chrystelle L. Vilfranc, Veronica A. Murphy, Colee M. Mitchell, Maia I. Volkova, Lawrence O'Neal, Vladislav S. Markin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The electrical phenomena and morphing structures in the Venus flytrap have attracted researchers since the nineteenth century. We have observed that mechanical stimulation of trigger hairs on the lobes of the Venus flytrap induces electrotonic potentials in the lower leaf. Electrostimulation of electrical circuits in the Venus flytrap can induce electrotonic potentials propagating along the upper and lower leaves. The instantaneous increase or decrease in voltage of stimulating potential generates a nonlinear electrical response in plant tissues. Any electrostimulation that is not instantaneous, such as sinusoidal or triangular functions, results in linear responses in the form of small electrotonic potentials. The amplitude and sign of electrotonic potentials depend on the polarity and the amplitude of the applied voltage. Electrical stimulation of the lower leaf induces electrical signals, which resemble action potentials, in the trap between the lobes and the midrib. The trap closes if the stimulating voltage is above the threshold level of 4.4. V. Electrical responses in the Venus flytrap were analyzed and reproduced in the discrete electrical circuit. The information gained from this study can be used to elucidate the coupling of intracellular and intercellular communications in the form of electrical signals within plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)838-846
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013


  • Action potential
  • Electrical signaling
  • Electrostimulation
  • Electrotonic potential
  • Plant electrophysiology
  • Venus flytrap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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