Biomechanical analyses and computer simulations reveal the Venus flytrap snapping mechanisms
The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) takes only 100 milliseconds to trap its prey. Once their leaves, which have been transformed into snap traps, have closed, insects can no longer escape.
Using biomechanical experiments and virtual Venus flytraps a team from Freiburg Botanical Garden and the University of Stuttgart has analyzed in detail how the lobes of the trap move.
Freiburg biologists Dr. Anna Westermeier, Max Mylo, Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck and Dr. Simon Poppinga and Stuttgart structural engineer Renate Sachse and Prof. Dr. Manfred Bischoff show that the trap of the carnivorous plant is under mechanical prestress.
In addition, its three tissue layers of each lobe have to deform according to a special pattern. The team has published its results in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
The diet of the Venus flytrap consists mainly of crawling insects. When the animals touch the sensory hairs inside the trap twice within about 20 seconds it snaps shut.
Aspects such as how the trap perceives its prey and how it differentiates potential prey from a raindrop falling into the trap were already well known to scientists. However the precise morphing process of the halves of the trap remained largely unknown.
In order to gain a better understanding of these processes, the researchers have analyzed the interior and exterior surfaces of the trap using digital 3D image correlation methods. Scientists typically use these methods for the examination of technical materials. Using the results the team then constructed several virtual traps in a finite element simulation that differ in their tissue layer setups and in the mechanical behavior of the layers.
Only the digital traps that were under prestress displayed the typical snapping. The team confirmed this observation with dehydration tests on real plants: only well-watered traps are able to snap shut quickly and correctly by releasing this prestress.
Watering the plant changed the pressure in the cells and with it the behavior of the tissue. In order to close correctly, the traps also had to consist of three layers of tissue: an inner which constricts, an outer which expands, and a neutral middle layer.
Speck and Mylo are members of the Living, Adaptive and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) cluster of excellence of the University of Freiburg. The Venus flytrap serves there as a model for a biomimetic demonstrator made of artificial materials being developed by researchers at the cluster. The scientists use it to test the potential uses of materials systems that have life-like characteristics: the systems adapt to changes in the environment and harvest the necessary energy from this environment.
The research was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of the livMatS cluster of excellence, by the State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg for Sciences, Research and Arts within the framework of the BioElast project, and by the academic research alliance JONAS (“Joint Research Network on Advanced Materials and Systems”) established jointly with BASF SE and the University of Freiburg.
Sachse R, Westermeier A, Mylo M, Nadashi J, Bischoff M, Speck T, Poppinga S. (2020) Snapping mechanics of the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, doi: 10.1073/pnas.2002707117
Dr. Simon Poppinga
Institute of Biology II
University of Freiburg
Tel.: +49 761 203-2999
Nicolas Scherger | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Study reveals how bacteria build essential carbon-fixing machinery
09.07.2020 | University of Liverpool
Stress testing 'coral in a box'
09.07.2020 | University of Konstanz
New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices
Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...
Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class
In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...
Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.
Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....
Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.
Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...
A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...
07.07.2020 | Event News
02.07.2020 | Event News
19.05.2020 | Event News
09.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy
09.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
09.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy