Navigation Links
No such thing as a free lunch for Venus flytraps
Date:8/3/2010

Charles Darwin described the Venus Flytrap as 'one of the most wonderful plants in the world.' It's also one of the fastest as many an unfortunate insect taking a stroll across a leaf has discovered. But what powers this speed? Dr Andrej Pavlovič of Comenius University, Slovakia, has been studying the plants with the help of some specialised equipment and a few unlucky insects.

In the wild the Venus Flytrap grows in the bogs and savannahs of North and South Carolina. This is not a healthy environment for many plants as it is low in the nitrogen to needed to build proteins. The Venus Flytrap has overcome this problem by developing a taste for meat. It has convex bi-lobed leaves with three trigger hairs on each lobe. When something knocks these hairs twice an electrical signal flips the leaves into concave shapes. If the captured creature struggles to escape it continues to tickle the trigger hairs. This causes the plant's trap to close tighter and release enzymes to digest its prey.

Pavlovič looked at how the Flytraps snapped their leaves around their prey and thought that it might cost the plant energy to catch its food this way. To test his idea, he set up an infrared gas analyzer and a chlorophyll fluorescence imaging camera to watch the plants. He used a wire to make a trap snap and then simulated an insect struggling in the closed trap. Then he watched what happened as the plant caught its victim.

Pavlovič said: "When a trap was triggered, photosynthesis slowed down and then recovered over ten minutes after the traps stopped being stimulated. In addition, the gas analyser showed an increase in respiration from the traps. To power the trap, the Venus Flytraps converted sugars they had photosynthesized back into carbon dioxide and energy. It is like an animal which also increases breathing when it has an increased demand for energy. The measurements showed that the effects are linked not to whether or not the trap is open, but to the stimulation of the trigger hairs. The measurements are connected with electrical signals produced by trigger hair irritation. These signals are similar to the signals which spread through the animal neurons."

The results mean that the plants should not been seen as entirely passive. Pavlovič added: "These results show that the plant is as active as it appears and that it has adapted to trade-off the costs of lost photosynthesis against the benefits of additional nutrients from animal prey which in turn may later stimulate photosynthesis. This agrees with my earlier studies on carnivorous plants and shows why Venus Flytraps live in sunny habitats. The energy used in eating insects means that they need a lot of opportunity for photosynthesis, otherwise they lose more than they gain."

It also suggests an answer to a question posed by Darwin over a century ago. Pavlovič noticed that when the traps closed there were gaps between the 'teeth' at the edge of the trap that a small creature could escape through. He said: "This could be an adaptive trait. Victims with little useful nitrogen can escape, ensuring the plant doesn't waste energy digesting them. The Venus Flytrap is not a merciless killer."


'/>"/>

Contact: Alun Salt
annalsbotany@le.ac.uk
44-116-252-3396
Oxford University Press
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Undergrad engineers research everything from water quality to wildfires this summer
2. Plant breathing mechanism discovered
3. New link between pollution, temperature and sleep-disordered breathing
4. Compression clothing and athletic performance -- functional or fad?
5. Organic solids in soil may speed up bacterial breathing
6. 4-D software helps adjust for breathing when treating lung cancer with radiotherapy
7. Research concludes there is no simple theory of everything inside the enigmatic E8
8. African bird discovery proves there is something new under the sun
9. LSU gets to the bottom of things -- in Antarctica
10. Explore the science of familiar things -- and discover the Joy of Chemistry
11. Too much of a good thing? Scientists explain cellular effects of vitamin A overdose and deficiency
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/15/2016)... , March 15, 2016 ... report published by Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock Systems ... Forecast 2015 - 2023," the global digital door lock systems ... Mn in 2014 and is forecast to grow at a ... of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the world ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... Germany , March 11, 2016 http://www.apimages.com ... - Cross reference: Picture is available at AP Images ( http://www.apimages.com ... from DERMALOG will be used to produce the new refugee identity ... other biometric innovations, at CeBIT in Hanover ... scanner from DERMALOG will be used to produce the new refugee ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... NEW YORK , March 9, 2016 ... current and future states of the RNA Sequencing (RNA ... in segments such as instruments, tools and reagents, data ... Analyze various segments of the RNA-Sequencing market such ... RNA-Sequencing services Identify the main factors affecting each segment ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/27/2016)... May 27, 2016 At present, the ... in this space know that volatility is what makes this ... on ActiveWallSt.com: Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp. (NASDAQ: SNTA ), ... (NASDAQ: LPTN ), and Heat Biologics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... to the technical alerts for these stocks at: ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... and READING, England , ... ( http://www.indegene.com ), a leading global provider of ... pharmaceutical and healthcare organisations and TranScrip ( http://www.transcrip-partners.com ... support throughout the product lifecycle, today announced the ... of IntraScience.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20141208/720248 ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... May 26, 2016 Despite the volatility ... in this space. Today,s pre-market research on ActiveWallSt.com directs the ... Inc. (NASDAQ: RDUS ), Cerus Corp. (NASDAQ: ... ), and Five Prime Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: FPRX ... at: http://www.activewallst.com/ On Wednesday, ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... and manufacturing company, today announced several positive developments that position the Company for ... a result of the transaction, Craig F. Kinghorn has been appointed Chairman of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: