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
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy