Venus flytraps have fascinated biologists for centuries, however, the molecular underpinnings of their carnivorous lifestyle remain largely unknown. Researchers have now characterized gene expression, protein secretion, and ultrastructural changes during stimulation of Venus flytraps and discover that common plant defense systems, which typically protect plants from being eaten, are also used by Venus flytraps for insect feeding.
“Contact with chitin normally means danger for a plant — that insects will eat the plant,” corresponding author Rainer Hedrich from the University of Würzburg said. Comparing the global gene expression changes during insect capture and digestion to the stress response of the model organism, Arabidopsis, the researchers found several commonalities. Jasmonic acid (JA), which is produced by non-carnivorous plants when they are wounded by herbivores, is upregulated in insect-stimulated traps. “In the Venus flytrap, these defensive processes have been reprogrammed during evolution. The plant now uses them to eat insects,” Hedrich said. Paper. – Bemm F, Becker D, Larisch C, Kreuzer I, Escalante-Perez M, Schulze WX, Ankenbrand M, Van der Weyer A-LK, Krol E, Al-Rasheid KA, Mithöfer A, Weber AP, Schultz J, Hedrich R. Venus flytrap carnivorous lifestyle builds on herbivore defense strategies. Genome Res, 2016 DOI: 10.1101/gr.202200.115More.
That was one mother of an engineering project.
There is an entertaining series of posts here at UD about whether carnivorous plants could have evolved without design, featuring book burner Nick Matzke:
Carnivorous plants: Darwinist Nick Matzke is latest to put Darwin’s theory “outside science”
Remember that Darwin-eating plant? Now threatening to eat Nick Matzke …
Carnivorous plants: After eating Darwin, they couldn’t resist further culinary adventures
The plants that eat vertebrate animals
Carnivorous plants: The 200-year headache.
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