The Venus flytrap is a carnivorous plant luring insect prey with drops of liquid. The trap snaps shut like a steel jaw when an insect touches one of the very fine hairs within.
The prey is caught – digestion begins. Minoru Ueda and a research team from the Universities of Tohoku, Hirosaki, and Hiroshima (Japan) have now found chemicals that trigger the trap to snap shut.
As the scientists report in the journal ChemBioChem, when these substances are applied to the plants, the traps close even without stimulation of the sensory hairs.
The Venus flytrap has a “memory”. In order to avoid reacting to a “false alarm”, the plant does not snap shut at the first touch of the sensory hairs. Instead, there must be at least two stimulations of the hairs within 30 seconds. After that, the trap closes fast so that the prey cannot make a last-gasp escape. How does the trap’s memory work?
The hypothesis is that certain messenger chemicals are released every time the hairs are stimulated, and these substances accumulate in the trap. Only when these substances reach a certain threshold concentration does an ion channel open – like the mechanism used to transmit signals in our nerve cells—producing an action potential that allows the leaves of the trap to shut.
The researchers cloned a strain of genetically uniform Venus flytraps. They used these to make an extract, and separated out various fractions of this extract. They cut off individual traps and placed them with their stems in solutions of the various fractions of the extract. The partial plants were able to soak up the liquid. Some fractions triggered the traps to snap shut without stimulation of the sensory hairs. The scientists used various methods to further separate the active fractions and tested the new fractions again. In the end, the researchers were able to isolate two substances, termed “trap-closing factors”, which trigger the traps to snap shut. One of these substances was identified by means of various analytical techniques. The active substance was found to be the potassium salt of a glucose-containing derivative of jasmonic acid, a common plant hormone. The second substance has a higher molecular mass. It consists of many different sugar components that have not yet been completely identified because the substance has only been isolated in very small amounts.
Experiments with different concentrations and amounts of messenger-containing solutions revealed that the closing of the traps does not depend on a specific concentration of the trigger substance, but on the overall amount of the substance that is absorbed. This supports the hypothesis that a threshold value must be reached to trigger the Venus flytrap to snap shut.
Author: Minoru Ueda, Tohoku University, Sendai (Japan), http://www.chem.tohoku.ac.jp/english/laboratories/organic/organic_chemistry_e.html
Title: Trap-Closing Chemical Factors of the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipulla Ellis)
ChemBioChem 2010, 11, No. 17, 2378–2383
Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cbic.201000392
Minoru Ueda | Wiley-VCH
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences