Australian Carnivorous Sundew Plant Captures Fruit Flies With Its Touch Sensitive Catapult Tentacles

Posted on September 27, 2012

Australian Sundew Snap Tentacles

Drosera glanduligera, a small carnivorous sundew plant from southern Australia, uses its touch sensitive catapulting tentacles to capture small insects. New research, published here in PLoS One, found the plant deploys one of the fastest and most spectacular trapping mechanisms known among carnivorous plants.

The researchers found that insects walking on the snap tentacles trigger a touch-sensitive catapult action, which propels them onto the nearby glue tentacles. Glue tentacles then gradually move the prey down to the leaf trap for digestion. The sundrew can be seen capturing fruit flies in the following video, which was recorded with 25 fps. Take a look:

The study is a collaboration between the Plant Biomechanics Group at the University of Freiburg and private sundew cultivators from Weil am Rhein. Thomas Speck, lead author on the study, said in a statement, "Such plants are of particular interest to plant biologists because of their sophisticated and complex structural and mechanical adaptations to carnivory."

Photo: Poppinga S, Hartmeyer SRH, Seidel R, Masselter T, Hartmeyer I, et al.

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