Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Largest carnivorous sundew of the Americas discovered on Facebook

24.07.2015

An international team of botanists from Brazil, USA and the Botanische Staatssammlung München, Germany described a new species of carnivorous sundew (Drosera, Droseraceae), which was discovered on a not-so-remote mountain in Southeastern Brazil. The new species, which has been named Drosera magnifica (the magnificent sundew), turned out to be the largest of its kind known from the Americas, attaining a total length of 1.5m.

The spectacular thread-like carnivorous foliage is up to 24 cm long forming medusa-like clusters of sticky, glistening leaves.


The giant new species Drosera magnifica in its habitat. Photo: Paulo Gonella

Although discoveries of new species are not unusual, even nowadays, the way in which this new giant sundew species was discovered is exceptional: it is the first time that a new plant species has been discovered from a photograph which was posted on the social network Facebook.

A local orchid and native flora enthusiast posted the pictures in 2013, taken while exploring mountains near his hometown in Minas Gerais state. The pictures were picked up and immediately identified as a new sundew species by carnivorous plant experts Fernando Rivadavia and Paulo Gonella.

The new species has now been published in the renowned taxonomical journal Phytotaxa, including a detailed scientific description of the plant and a brief history of its unusual discovery.

“The genus Drosera, also known as sundews, is the largest group of carnivorous plants, and comprises approximately 250 species, most of them found in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in Australia, South Africa and Brazil”, says Dr. Andreas Fleischmann from the SNSB, Botanische Staatssammlung München, senior author of the publication.

Sundews produce leaves that are covered with carnivorous glands, so-called tentacles, which produce sticky droplets of a viscous fluid. These glistening red tentacles constitute visually attractive yet deadly traps for small arthropods, especially small flying insects. Indeed, “even under the humid, foggy and rainy conditions on the mountain summit where it grows, the long thread-like leaves of Drosera magnifica surprisingly were covered with lots of small insects”, says sundew expert Fernando Rivadavia, who studied the plants in nature in 2013, soon after its discovery on Facebook.

In most Drosera species, the tentacles and even the leaves are capable of movement, and will bend over the caught prey, entangling it with more glue and adhering it to more glands. The insects then suffocate and are slowly digested by enzymes secreted by the plant. This ensures a nutrient boost from its carnivorous diet, supplementing the nutrient-poor soils on which most carnivorous plant species usually grow.

It is interesting that such a large and conspicuous plant species has remained undiscovered until now, even though it was not growing on a terribly remote Amazonian mountain. This is an example of how little is still known about Brazilian biodiversity, even in the more well-developed parts of the country.

Despite being quite distinctive and unusual, the new species also shares some similarities with two other sundew species which were discovered and named 200 years ago, and are found on other highlands over 200km away, also in Southeastern Brazil.

Sadly, the magnificent sundew is already threatened with extinction. The new species was only found on a single mountain top rising above small ranches, coffee farms, and eucalyptus plantations. Invasive plant species were observed almost all the way to the top of the mountain, which is almost completely deforested around the base and is currently not protected by any kind of nature preserve or national park. Nearby mountains were explored by the scientists, but no other populations of this sundew have been found yet.

“We hope that the discovery of such an extraordinary new plant species will bring attention to the conservation of this fragile ecosystem. It was a surprise to all of us that this region of Minas Gerais was so poorly botanized, potentially harboring several other undescribed new plant species”, states Paulo Gonella, from the Systematic Botany Labs of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, who is currently working on the systematics and phylogeny of New World sundews in Munich, Germany.

Original publication:
Gonella, P.M., Rivadavia, F., Fleischmann, A. (2015). Drosera magnifica (Droseraceae): the largest New World sundew, discovered on Facebook. Phytotaxa 220 (3): 257-267. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.220.3.4

Contact: Brazil: Paulo Gonella
phone: +49-89-17861-200
USA: Fernando Rivadavia
e-mail: fe_riva@uol.com
phone: +1-415-5162192

Europe: Dr. Andreas Fleischmann, SNSB, Botanische Staatssammlung München

e-mail: fleischmann@bsm.mwn.de
phone: +49-89-17861-265
http://www.botanischestaatssammlung.de
http://www.snsb.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.snsb.de
http://www.botanischestaatssammlung.de

Dr. Eva-Maria Natzer | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Drosera Phytotaxa insects leaves new species plant species species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>