The Monitor Daily (U.S.) – Researchers with the University of Würzburg (Germany) studying carnivorous plants found that the Venus flytrap has a five-step meal plan. Carnivorous plants are nothing short of fascinating organisms.
Albeit lacking a central nervous system or a host of abilities animals can display, carnivorous plants seem to be planning each step of their existence. The study led by Rainer Hedrich with the University of Würzburg focused on Dionaea muscipula.
This particular carnivorous plant, also known as the Venus flytrap, was found to have a well-designed plan to capture each of its hearty meals. As per the findings of the study published in the Current Biology journal, the Venus flytrap has a five-step meal plan.
Basically, Dionaea muscipula feels and counts how many times a potential prey touched the capture organ. The carnivorous plant almost never misses. The ultra-sensitive follicles inside the capture organ of the Venus flytrap play a key role in the deadly five-step meal plan. As soon as a potential victim set its feet on the capture organ, the follicles are activated.
Each step brings the unknowing victim closer to the death sentence. Dionaea muscipula can feel how far did the prey travel into the attractive capture organ. Depending on the size of the prey (it can be anywhere between a fly and a lizard), the Venus flytrap will calculate the exact moment when it needs to shut close its trap.
The University of Würzburg research team conducted an experiment during which no prey was hurt. The carnivorous plant was connected to a device sending electric pulses mimicking the landing of a potential victim inside the capture organ. Following the process step by step, the research team found that each of the electric pulses was associated with another step of the five-step meal plan.
The first electric impulse served as a notification. The Venus flytrap was informed that dinner may be close. The second impulse saw a slight contraction of the trap just around the source of stimulation. The third impulse, further from the ‘entry point’ into Dionaea muscipula’s trap triggered the full closure of the capture organ.
No matter how hard the prey fights, once inside the Venus flytrap, there is no way out. The fourth and fifth electric pulses signaled the carnivorous plant to get ready for the nutritious snack. As the trap is tightly closed, the prey’s movements trigger the production of a hormone linked with the feeding process. Further down the line, the Venus flytrap glands produce digestive enzymes to break down the food as well as transporter substances that help with nutrients.
Photo Credits: Flickr