Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Hunting secrets of the Venus flytrap
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Jan 22, 2016

This is the video abstract for "The Venus Flytrap Dionaea muscipula Counts Prey-Induced Action Potentials to Induce Sodium Uptake," published in Current Biology. Image courtesy Bohm and Scherzer et al./Current Biology 2016.

Carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap depend on meals of insects to survive in nutrient-poor soil. They sense the arrival of juicy insects, lured by the plants' fruity scent, with the aid of sensitive trigger hairs on the inner surfaces of their traps.

Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on January 21 have looked more closely at exactly how the plants decide when to keep their traps shut and begin producing their acidic, prey-decomposing cocktail of enzymes. The short answer is: they count.

"The carnivorous plant Dionaea muscipula, also known as Venus flytrap, can count how often it has been touched by an insect visiting its capture organ in order to trap and consume the animal prey," says Rainer Hedrich of Universitat Wurzburg in Germany.

To find out whether Venus flytraps record touches, in the new study Hedrich and his colleagues fooled the plants into thinking they'd landed an insect by applying increasing numbers of mechano-electric stimuli to their trap and monitoring their responses.

The studies show that a single touch to the trigger hair is enough to generate a response, setting the trap into a "ready-to-go" mode. In other words, the plants make note but don't snap just yet. It might be a false alarm, after all.

With the second stroke, the trap closes around the prey to form what Hedrich and his colleagues liken to a green stomach. As the prey attempt to escape, they wind up touching the mechano-sensitive trigger hairs again and again, which serves only to excite the plant further.

At this stage, the plant begins to produce a special touch hormone. After five triggers, glands on the inner surface of the trap also produce digestive enzymes and transporters to take up nutrients. Hedrich calls it a "deadly spiral of capture and disintegration." This input also allows the plant to scale its production of costly ingredients to the size of the meal.

"The number of action potentials informs [the plant] about the size and nutrient content of the struggling prey," Hedrich said. "This allows the Venus flytrap to balance the cost and benefit of hunting."

Interestingly, the plants show a particularly marked increase in production of a transporter that allows them to take up sodium. It's not clear exactly what the salt does for the plant, but the researchers suggest that it may have something to do with how Venus flytraps maintain the right balance of water inside their cell walls.

Hedrich and his colleagues are now sequencing the Venus flytrap genome. In those sequences, they expect to find additional clues about the plants' sensory systems and chemistry needed to support a carnivorous lifestyle and how those traits have evolved over time.

Current Biology, Bohm and Scherzer et al.: "The Venus Flytrap Dionaea muscipula Counts Prey-Induced Action Potentials to Induce Sodium Uptake"


Related Links
Cell Press
Darwin Today At

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Researchers find microbial heat islands in the desert
Tempe AZ (SPX) Jan 21, 2016
Deserts are often thought of as barren places that are left exposed to the extremes of heat and cold and where not much is afoot. But that view is being altered as new research keeps revealing the intricate ecological dynamics of deserts as they change responding to the elements. New research from Arizona State University now reveals how microbes can significantly warm the desert surface b ... read more

Charities warn of 'desperate' plight of refugees in snow

Nepal quake rebuilding to take years, new chief says

MH370 search finds new shipwreck, but no plane

Six years on, quake-devastated Haiti mourns its dead

CSU imaging tool maps cells' composition in 3-D

Gloop from the deep sea

High-performance material polyimide for the first time with angular shape

Copper deposition to fabricate tiny 3-D objects

Livermore scientists find global ocean warming has doubled in recent decades

Obama hosts mayor of US city at center of water crisis

Living fossils and rare corals revealed

Volunteers send water as S.African temperatures soar

Study finds high melt rates on Antarctica's most stable ice shelf

Human-made climate change suppresses the next ice age

Ice sheets may be hiding vast reservoirs of powerful greenhouse gas

World's largest canyon could be hidden under Antarctic ice sheet

Eating less meat might not be the way to go green

A tree or not a tree? India's Goa rows over coconut status

Bird flu scare hits French foie gras production

Bird flu detected in US turkey flock

More than 1,200 flee as Indonesia volcano spews ash, gas

Kobe marks 21 years since killer quake

Study: Mild winter followed ancient eruption of Toba volcano

Evidence of large volcanic activity in the Caribbean uncovered

UN reduces size of peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast

Several dead as Shebab storm African Union base in Somalia

China's imports from Africa plummet in 2015: officials

Niger holds 13 over failed December coup

Harmful mutations have accumulated during early human migrations out of Africa

Memory capacity of brain is 10 times more than previously thought

Study: 920,000 Pygmies living in forests of Central Africa

Chimp friendships are based on trust

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.