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Abstract The presence of compounds in plants with neuroactive properties has always raised speculation regarding their endogenous function. One such compound is S(1)--methyl-, -diaminopropionic acid (BMAA), which is found in all cycads. BMAA has been shown to activate glutamate receptors in animal neuronal cells, and it has been subsequently argued that it is the causative agent of neurological disorders in people who consume cycads or cycad-eating animals. Although it is still not clear the role what BMAA might play with regard to neurological disorders in humans, recent evidence has shown that BMAA has dramatic effects on plant development when applied to the model organism, Arabidopsis. Here we utilize BMAA in a screen to study the role of Arabidopsis glutamate receptors (AtGLRs) by isolating plants with BMAA-insensitive mutant (bim) involved in a BMAA-activated pathway. Then we present analysis on the presumptive target of BMAA"the AtGLRs. We further examine the expression of three different AtGLRs, which represent three separate clades of these genes. Finally, we use a genomics approach successfully to isolate a glutamate receptor gene from Cycas rumphii.