The outlandish strategies of carnivorous plants for capturing live prey have long captured the public’s imagination.But even in this odd group, the food-trapping mechanism has multiple independent evolutions, some oddities stand out.For example, the visually striking Nepenthes Nepenthes elongatus, Native to Southeast Asia, it can use the energy of falling rain to ambush animals.a new study exist Biology Letters showed how the structure of the plant’s pitcher assembly, itself a modified leaf, allows this unusual strategy to work.
“This is the only case we know of where plants actually utilize [external energy] For some purpose,” says study co-author Ulrike Bauer, an evolutionary biologist and biomechanist at the University of Bristol, UK. But how does this rain-powered trap work?
The pitchers of this species have a hard horizontal lid with a bare bottom that secretes nectar, which lures insects to settle on it. When raindrops fall on top of the lid, the lid vibrates downward, throwing any unsuspecting visitors into the digestive juices below. Bauer and study lead author Anne-Kristin Lenz (also in Bristol) used high-resolution X-ray scanning to analyze cross-sections of jugs with the lid raised, lowered and in the neutral position. Their results revealed a structural weak point in the pitcher’s neck, which the researchers call a torsion spring: When a raindrop hits the cover, the weak point bends and forces the cover to flick downward, similar to a diving board. This weak point makes the body of the pitcher bend and spring back in a specific, consistent way, so the cover will lift back without bouncing too much – not unlike the typical mess of leaves when they get hit by rain Oscillations are different. The researchers also found a closely related pitcher plant, Nepenthes rafflesia, This mechanism is lacking.
“It’s a really good study that compares two species and comes back to the diversity between them,” says Tanya Renner, an entomologist at Penn State University who was not involved in the study. Although rain traps have so far Technology seems to be unique Nepenthes tenifolia, Renner hopes that future work will shed more light on the widespread diversity among carnivorous plants. “Personally,” she said, “I would study more species.”