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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
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Video: Sundews Snap to Nab Insect Prey
26 September 2012 5:00 pm
Many carnivorous plants snag prey by luring them onto sticky surfaces from which there is no escape. But a common sundew (Drosera glanduligera) from southern Australia packs a one-two punch. The edges of its spoon-shaped leaves are ringed with up to 18 6-millimeter-long "tentacles" that can move four times faster than the blink of an eye; when an ant or other small insect touches a tentacle, it flicks the unsuspecting insect into the center of the leaf. There, another set of tentacles covered with glue draws the ant deep into the fold of the leaf where it is digested, researchers report today online in PLoS ONE. Just one researcher had observed this catapulting motion in the wild, and only now has it been demonstrated in the lab. The team raised sundews in a greenhouse, feeding the young plants fish flakes and, once the plants got big enough, dead fruit flies. When the plants were mature, the researchers filmed the plant's reactions to live insect visitors. They also tripped isolated tentacles with nylon thread while filming them under a microscope to see close-up how they worked. When activated, the tentacle bends at a hinge near its base; in as few as 75 milliseconds (an eye blink takes about 350 milliseconds) it catapults toward the leaf's center. It's not clear what drives this motion, but once flung, the tentacle can't unwind and be used again, the researchers report. Fortunately, sundews produce new leaves every few days, so there's always a fresh set of traps for unsuspecting prey.
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