A carnivorous plant that is turning vegetarian
Monday 24 April, 2017
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A carnivorous plant that is turning vegetarian

Published On: Sun, Dec 21st, 2014 | Plant Sciences | By BioNews

If you think that only humans are turning vegetarian, here is a new study that has found certain carnivorous plants are also becoming vegetarians.

The bladderworts (Utricularia) is a species of carnivorous plant that catches and digests tiny animals.

Now, the plant is turning to algae and pollen grains for a balanced nutrition.

The species catches its prey with the help of suction bladders, trap doors and lightning speed.

Once captured by the bladderwort, the animal suffocates, and is then broken down by enzymes and digested.

Algae trapped by Utricularia. (A) Trap of U. vulgaris from Seetaler See, containing algae and pollen grains. (B) Dead cells of Closterium sp. and Spirogyra sp. within a trap. (C) Dead Tabellaria flocculosa and an undetermined filamentous alga from a trap. (D) Dead Gomphonema constrictum growing on Spirogyra sp. from a trap. Bright field; scale bars???50?µm. Image Credit: Annals of Botany

Algae trapped by Utricularia. (A) Trap of U. vulgaris from Seetaler See, containing algae and pollen grains. (B) Dead cells of Closterium sp. and Spirogyra sp. within a trap. (C) Dead Tabellaria flocculosa and an undetermined filamentous alga from a trap. (D) Dead Gomphonema constrictum growing on Spirogyra sp. from a trap. Bright field; scale bars???50?µm. Image Credit: Annals of Botany

This is how the plant worked until it discovered vegetarianism.

“Bladderworts are switching to algae and pollen grains,” said researchers Marianne Koller-Peroutka and Wolfram Adlassnig from the University of Vienna in Austria.

When bladderworts lived in areas where algae was plenty and animals were scarce, the vegetarian plants were actually larger than the meat eaters.

Consuming animals gave the plants a higher nitrogen content which increased the development of hibernation buds which are critical to helping them survive over cold winters.

The bladderworts (Utricularia) are one of the largest genera (a principal taxonomic category that ranks above species and below family) in carnivorous plants with over 200 species.

The study appeared in the journal Annals of Botany.

 

 

 

 

Reference:
Marianne Koller-Peroutka, Thomas Lendl, Margarete Watzka, and Wolfram Adlassnig. Capture of algae promotes growth and propagation in aquatic Utricularia. Ann Bot first published online December 18, 2014 doi:10.1093/aob/mcu236

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