Stimulation of cellular stress responses by sublethal pulsed electric fields
In general, a pulsed electric field treatment for extraction purposes causes a lethal degree of membrane permeabilization.
By shortening pulse duration and treatment energy, cells and organisms stay alive and respond by performing stress reactions, like Calcium emission or cytoskeleton reorganization. Presumably, membrane perturbations or field impact on polar molecules are responsible for these effects.
Besides intracellular single cell reactions, sublethal PEFs can stimulate growth of organisms. A pulsed electric field treatment of three days old seedlings of Arabidopsis thaliana with 10 ns pulses resulted in increased leaf area growth of more than a factor of 2. In close collaboration with the Botanical Institute at Campus South, current work focuses on basic mechanisms of field induced stress responses and on possible applications for proliferating plant biomass growth.