Now that three carnivorous plant species’ genomes (Venus flytrap, spoon-leaved sundew and the waterwheel plant) have been decoded:
To their surprise, the researchers discovered that the plants do not need a particularly large number of genes for carnivory. Instead, the three species studied are actually among the most gene-poor plants known. Drosera has 18,111, Dionaea 21,135 and Aldrovanda 25,123 genes. In contrast, most plants have between 30,000 and 40,000 genes.
How can this be reconciled with the fact that a wealth of new genes is usually needed to develop new ways of life? “This can only mean that the specialization in animal food was accompanied by an increase in the number of genes, but also a massive loss of genes,” concludes developmental biologist Hasebe…
Most of the genes required for the insect traps are also found in slightly modified form in normal plants. “In carnivorous plants, several genes are active in the trapping organs, which in other plants have their effect in the root. In the trapping organs, these genes are only switched on when the prey is secure,” explains Hedrich. This finding is consistent with the fact that the roots are considerably reduced in Venus flytrap and sundew. In the waterwheel they are completely absent.University of Würzburg, “The carnivorous plant lifestyle is gene costly” at ScienceDaily
The Darwinian claim that natural selection acting on random mutation can, by itself, build complex machinery is one of the destructive myths of science today. But no question, natural selection can destroy complex machinery for a current advantage. In fact, that’s pretty much how it must work, in reality.
Paper. (open access)
See also: Devolution: Getting back to the simple life