Pitcher plants are one of the most interesting things in nature. Researchers have been trying to figure out how these plants acquired a taste for meat. Despite the fact that these plants were not carnivorous at first, they developed a taste for blood.
- Pitcher plants develop both photosynthetic and carnivorous leaves
- Researchers sequenced the genome of a pitcher plant
- Scientists discovered that these plants have 35 genes associated with digestion
- More than 4 types of carnivorous plant have these genes
These interesting creatures grow two types of leaves. The first ones are carnivorous and the second ones are photosynthetic, just like the rest of the plants. This is why scientists have been trying to figure out what makes pitcher plants act differently from the other plants.
In order to find out more about the pitcher plants, the scientists sequenced the genome of a plant. Once the genome was sequenced they were able to see if the plant was going to grow a flat leaf or an insect-trapping tunnel.
This is how the scientists figured out which genes are responsible for altering the pitcher plants diet. This research was published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. The researchers mentioned that this is only the beginning because they want to find out more about these interesting plants.
First of all, they want to find out the reason that made the pitcher plants change their diet so radically. They want to see what changed in nature so that they had to change too. Until now the researchers were only able to find out that 35 genes are associated with digestion and are traced back to the ancestors of these “predator” plants.
Despite the fact that the researchers were unable to find out what changed in the environment, the pitcher plants needed to change their diet in order to adapt. These plants started to grow curled leafs that are used for trapping insects.
After the plant catches the insect, the digestive enzymes break the body of the prey and extract the nutrients. The same genes were found in other 4 types of carnivorous plants. Despite the fact that they have the same genes these plants developed their taste for meat separately.
What is your opinion about this study? What do you think made these plants change their diets?
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