Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Carnivorous Plants Use Pitchers of “Slimy Saliva” to Catch Their Prey

21.11.2007
Carnivorous plants supplement the meager diet available from the nutrient-poor soils in which they grow by trapping and digesting insects and other small arthropods.

Pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes were thought to capture their prey with a simple passive trap but in a paper in this week’s PLoS ONE, Laurence Gaume and Yoel Forterre, a biologist and a physicist from the CNRS, working respectively in the University of Montpellier and the University of Marseille, France show that they employ slimy secretions to doom their victims.

They show that the fluid contained inside the plants’ pitchers has the perfect viscoelastic properties to prevent the escape of any small creatures that come into contact with it even when diluted by the heavy rainfall of the forest of Borneo in which they live.

Since Charles Darwin’s time, the mechanism of insect-trapping by Nepenthes pitcher plants from the Asian tropics has intrigued scientists but is still incompletely understood. The slippery inner surfaces of their pitchers have – until now – been considered the key trapping devices, while it was assumed that the fluid secretions were only concerned with digestion. Gaume and Forterre were able to combine their separate expertise in biology and physics to show that the digestive fluid of Nepenthes rafflesiana actually plays a crucial role in prey capture.

The pair took high-speed videos of flies and ants attempting to move through plants’ fluid. Flies quickly became completely coated in the fluid and unable to move even when diluted more than 90% with water. Physical measurements on the fluid showed that this was because this complex fluid generates viscoelastic filaments with high retentive forces that give no chance of escape to any insect that has fallen into it and that is struggling in it. That the viscoelastic properties of the fluid remain strong even when highly diluted is of great adaptive significance for these tropical plants which are often subjected to heavy rainfalls.

For insects, this fluid acts like quicksand: the quicker they move, the more trapped they become. Its constituency is closely akin to mucus or saliva, which, in some reptiles and amphibians, serves a very similar purpose. The exact makeup of this fluid, apparently unique in the plant kingdom, remains to be determined; however, it may point the way to novel, environmentally friendly approaches to pest control.

Citation: Gaume L, Forterre Y (2007) A Viscoelastic Deadly Fluid in Carnivorous Pitcher Plants. PLoS ONE 2(11): e1185. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001185

Andrew Hyde | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0001185

Further reports about: Carnivorous Forterre Gaume Nepenthes Pitcher diluted viscoelastic

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>