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Physically bound to a specific location, plants have to devise special ways to secure their supply of vital nutrients. Most plants have developed a root system to the nutrients they need in order to survive out of the soil. But what if nutrient-poor soils fail to provide the necessities of life? Carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap have found a way out of this dilemma.
The Venus flytrap is native to the wetlands of North and South Carolina on the East Coast of the U.S.. Instead of taking in nutrients through its roots alone, the carnivorous plant traps prey within its leaves that can snap shut within a fraction of a second. The plant is capable of sensing prey through delicate trigger hairs on the inside of its flat leaves. Since prey insects come in different sizes and the Venus flytrap cannot afford to be fussy, the plant grows traps across a variety of sizes.
Researchers - Universities - Würzburg - Cambridge - Sensors
Now, researchers from the universities of Würzburg and Cambridge have discovered that the tactile sensors in these traps already respond to minute pressure stimuli, converting them to electrical signals that cause the trap to close. They have published their results in the current issue of Nature Plants.
"Each trap lobe features three to four multicellular hairs that are torsion-resistant except for a notch at the base. When an insect, lured by the smell, color or nectar of the trap, touches the trigger hair, the hair will yield in the area of the non-reinforced base. This causes the sensory cells in this area to be stretched on one side and compressed on the other side," says Professor Rainer Hedrich, explaining the operating principle of the Venus flytrap. The biophysicist and plant researcher, who holds the Chair of Botany I at the University of Würzburg, has been studying the...
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