Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Trap Snaps Shut

08.11.2010
Researchers isolate the substance that causes Venus flytraps to close

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
Further information:
http://www.wiley-vch.de
http://www.chem.tohoku.ac.jp/english/laboratories/organic/organic_chemistry_e.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University

nachricht Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>