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Journal Article

Venus flytrap: How an excitable, carnivorous plant works.


Neher,  E.
Emeritus Group of Membrane Biophysics, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Hedrich, R., & Neher, E. (2018). Venus flytrap: How an excitable, carnivorous plant works. Trends in Plant Science, 23(3), 220-234. doi:10.1016/j.tplants.2017.12.004.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-32D7-5
The carnivorous plant Dionaea possesses very sensitive mechanoreceptors. Upon contact with prey an action potential is triggered which, via an electrical network - comparable to the nervous system of vertebrates - rapidly closes its bivalved trap. The 'hunting cycle' comprises a constitutively activated mechanism for the rapid capture of prey, followed by a well-orchestrated sequence of activation of genes responsible for tight trap closure, digestion of the prey, and uptake of nutrients. Decisions on the step-by-step activation are based on 'counting' the number of stimulations of sensory organs. These remarkable animal-like skills in the carnivore are achieved not by taking over genes from its prey but by modifying and rearranging the functions of genes that are ubiquitous in plants.