Carnivorous pitcher plant make the use of raindrops to catch the food; Research

carnivorous plant N. gracilis

Scientists have found that one of the species of carnivorous plants make use of the rain to catch their prey.

This research has been published online in the June 13 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

[hana-code-insert name=’StumbleUpon’ /][hana-code-insert name=’Reddit’ /]Scientists in this study work on one type of pitcher plant species Nepenthes gracilis. The plant has gotten its name due to a pitcher i.e. the large empty structure with the digestive enzymes to digest the fly meals and covered by the waxy lid.

They have found that the plant uses the special waxy coating on the underside of the lid to make the ants and flies loosen their grip when the raindrop falls and shakes the lid, which they have held.

“Basically it works a bit like a springboard in a pool, but the other way around,” study researcher Ulrike Bauer, of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience. “The reason why it works is it has a specialized waxy coating on the lower lip surface.”

Scientists worked and found that this covering is especially made by the plant for the ants and flies to have a grip but with a vibration or a raindrop the ants lose their grip and fall into the pitcher. Moreover, bottom of the lid is important for ants and flies as it has sugary nectar and is also a good place for the bugs to hide in the times of rainstorm.

“If you look at a high magnification under a microscope, you can see it’s a structure made up of wax pillars situated very close together,” Bauer said. “What that does is it makes the surface slightly slippery, but not completely slippery. It’s safe enough for the insect to walk upside-down under normal conditions, but not when the lid is hit by a raindrop — it starts to vibrate and that’s enough for the insect to fall off.”

Via: Live Science


Ulrike Bauer, Bruno Di Giusto, Jeremy Skepper, T. Ulmar Grafe, Walter Federle, (2012). With a Flick of the Lid: A Novel Trapping Mechanism in Nepenthes gracilis Pitcher Plants. PLoS ONE, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038951

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