Carnivorous plants use slimy secretions to catch their prey

November 21st, 2007 - 4:17 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 21 (ANI): Carnivorous plants were thought to supplement their diet by capturing prey with a simple passive trap, but a new study has found that they employ slimy secretions to doom their victims.

The study, conducted by Laurence Gaume and Yoel Forterre, a biologist and a physicist from the CNRS, working respectively in the University of Montpellier and the University of Marseille, France, made the finding in pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes.

In the study, the scientists took high-speed videos of flies and ants attempting to move through plants fluid.

Flies quickly became completely coated in the fluid and unable to move even when diluted more than 90 percent with water.

The analysis of the study found that the fluid contained inside the plants pitchers had the perfect viscoelastic properties to prevent the escape of any small creatures that come into contact with it even when diluted by the heavy rainfall of the forest of Borneo in which they live.

It is the digestive fluid of Nepenthes rafflesiana, which actually plays a crucial role in prey capture.

Physical measurements on the fluid showed that this was because this complex fluid generates viscoelastic filaments with high retentive forces that give no chance of escape to any insect that has fallen into it and that is struggling in it. That the viscoelastic properties of the fluid remain strong even when highly diluted is of great adaptive significance for these tropical plants, which are often subjected to heavy rainfalls.

The study is published in PLoS ONE. (ANI)

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