Navigation Links
Scientists think 'killer petunias' should join the ranks of carnivorous plants
Date:12/4/2009

Scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Natural History Museum believe that carnivorous behaviour in plants is far more widespread than previously thought, with many commonly grown plants such as petunias at least part way to being "meat eaters". A review paper, Murderous plants: Victorian Gothic, Darwin and modern insights into vegetable carnivory, is published today (4 December 2009) in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

Carnivorous plants have caught the imagination of humans since ancient times, and they fitted well into the Victorian interest in Gothic horrors. Accounts of man-eating plants published in 19th century works have long since been discredited, but they continue to appear in different media including films (Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors) and books (Tentacula in the Harry Potter series). Even popular Japanese cartoon Pokmon includes some characters based on carnivorous plants (Bellsprout, Weepinbell and Victreebell).

Carnivorous plants fascinated Charles Darwin, and he and his friend Sir Joseph Hooker (Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew at that time) had an extensive correspondence concerning them. Darwin's book Insectivorous Plants played a critical role in the idea that plants could eat animals being generally accepted. Before this, many botanists (including Linnaeus) had refused to accept that this could be the case.

Since Darwin's time, several groups have been generally recognised as carnivorous plants (including sundews, Venus flytraps and pitcher plants). Various other plants have been suggested as possible carnivores by some authors, but wide acceptance of these has failed to materialise. Defining what constitutes carnivory in plants is a challenge, and authors include or exclude groups of plants on the basis of different sets of criteria. Professor Mark Chase and co-authors from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Natural History Museum contend that carnivory and non-carnivory should not be treated as a black and white situation, and they view plants as being on a sliding scale between those that show no carnivorous characteristics and those that are real "meat eaters" such as the Venus flytrap.

Plants like petunias and potatoes have sticky hairs that trap insects, and some species of campion have the common name catchfly for the same reason. However, some of the commonly accepted carnivores have not been demonstrated to have the ability to digest the insects they trap or to absorb the breakdown products. In their paper, Chase et al. review each of the groups of potential carnivores.

Professor Mark Chase, Keeper of the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew says, "Although a man-eating tree is fictional, many commonly grown plants may turn out to be cryptic carnivores, at least by absorbing through their roots the breakdown products of the animals that they ensnare. We may be surrounded by many more murderous plants than we think."

Vaughan Southgate, President of the Linnean Society of London says, "This scholarly, beautifully illustrated, review of carnivorous plants and the different levels of carnivory that exist in the plant world by botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Natural History Museum makes for fascinating reading."


'/>"/>

Contact: Bronwyn Friedlander
pr@kew.org
020-833-25605
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists gain new understanding of disease-causing bacteria
2. How can scientists measure evolutionary responses to climate change?
3. Seeing family for the holidays? Scientists discover how the stress might kill you
4. The pill for him: Scientists find a hormonal on-and-off switch for male fertility
5. Caltech scientists find emotion-like behaviors, regulated by dopamine, in fruit flies
6. Scientists watch as peptides control crystal growth with switches, throttles and brakes
7. Reference genome of maize, most important US crop, is published by team co-led by CSHL scientists
8. ORNL, Los Alamos pioneer new approach to assist scientists, farmers
9. Scripps research scientists find new link between insulin and core body temperature
10. Smithsonian scientists find the frog legs trade may facilitate spread of pathogens
11. Scientists unravel evolution of highly toxic box jellyfish
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... Florida , April 11, 2017 ... a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent Directors ... Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the company,s ... ... of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and benefiting ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... 2017  The Allen Institute for Cell Science today ... one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window into the human ... first application of deep learning to create predictive models ... and a growing suite of powerful tools. The Allen ... future publicly available resources created and shared by the ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... KEY FINDINGS The global market ... CAGR of 25.76% during the forecast period of 2017-2025. ... for the growth of the stem cell market. ... MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem cell market is segmented ... The stem cell market of the product is segmented ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2017)... ... April 28, 2017 , ... While things have been quiet for ... company and provide a new outlook for the future. As a continued effort ... management with the retirement of Mr. Siegel as CEO. With the new adjustments in ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... ... digital pathology, today announced their digital pathology technology has the potential to eliminate ... five medical centers in The Netherlands as part of the 2017 ISBI ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... During the course ... how testing for 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D can enhance clinical practice. Participants will learn the ... dihydroxyvitamin D. , Dr. Gregory Plotnikoff, senior consultant with Minnesota Personalized Medicine, will ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... 27, 2017 , ... The Council for Agricultural Science and ... Lusk, a consummate communicator who promotes agricultural science and technology in the public ... explains how innovation and growth in agriculture are critical for food security and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: