Venus Flytraps Love Meat. How Did This Happen?

When and why did Venus Flytraps Love Meat? How did they evolve to desire flesh? If you love old films etc… then you probably watched the Little Shop of Horrors. In it, all it takes is a simple drop of blood. This however is not the way nature works. A research of three closely related carnivorous plants indicates that dextrous genetic shuffling has helped them improve the ability to capture and digest protein-rich foods.

Carnivorous plants have evolved several different ways to lure their prey. Pitcher plants , as an example, use what is called “pitfall traps” that contain enzymes to kill stray insects. Others — including the closely related Venus flytrap or Dionaea muscipula, the water wheel plant (Aldrovanda vesiculosa) and the sundew (Drosera spatulata)—use moving traps. The sundew will roll up its highly sticky landing pads when a mosquito is trapped. Since the Venus Flytraps Love Meat it uses modified leaves, or pads, that snap shut when the insect lands — but only after the pads feel multiple touches on their trigger feathers.

Researchers led by the computational evolutionary biologist Jörg Schultz and the plant biologist Rainer Hedrich, both from the University of Würzburg, have been sequencing the genomes of the sundew, the aquatic waterwheel and the Venus flytrap, all closely related. Researchers then compared their genomes with nine other species, including a carnivorous pitcher plant, as well as the non-carnivorous beetroot and papaya plants.

The strength [of this study] is the comparative analysis,” says Maria Logacheva, a plant scientist at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, who was not involved with the work. “It nicely shows how the novel traits emerge.

Their key findings showed that the evolution of meat eating in the plant realm, came from the duplication of the entire genome from a common ancestor. This happened 60 million years ago. This duplication freed up copies of genes once used in roots , leaves, and sensory systems to detect and digest prey.

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