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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
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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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ScienceShot: Snap! How Carnivorous Plants Capture Prey
19 March 2013 8:30 pm
When an insect blunders into the sticky tentacles of the carnivorous sundew plant, the leaf curls up into a kind of outer stomach in which the plant digests its catch. This is no mere reflex but a complex chemical system of capturing and devouring live prey, a new study suggests. Working with the South African cape sundew (Drosera capensis, pictured), researchers analyzed the chemicals produced by plants given a meal of live fruit flies. As the leaf engulfed the fly, the plant produced compounds called jasmonates that increased along with the degree of curl, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The leaves also curled up when the investigators touched them with a liquid preparation of jasmonate. But small stones or gentle strokes with a brush had no effect, indicating that the curling response is not just a reaction to contact or movement. Nor did dead flies evoke any response (inset). However, crushed dead flies caused the leaves to curl up—suggesting that chemicals released by trapped prey may trigger the production of jasmonates, which turn the leaf into a stomach. Many plants produce jasmonates in defense against munching insects. But that wasn't the case here; fruit flies, which eat rotting fruits and vegetables, have soft mouthparts that don't damage a sturdy, living plant. The researchers suspect that the sundew has adapted a system meant to defend against predators into one that allows the plant to become a predator itself.
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