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Abstract Detail

Evolution, Ecology, Development, And Genomics Of Carnivorous Plants

Bauer , Dr Ulrike [1].

Functional surfaces for insect trapping in Asian Nepenthes pitcher plants.

Carnivorous pitcher plants use passive pitfall traps to capture their prey. To this end, they have evolved a staggering diversity of surface adaptations. All have in common that they render the trap surfaces extremely slippery for visiting insects; however, the antiadhesive properties of different surfaces are based on radically different structures and principles. Micro-rough wax crystal surfaces drastically reduce the available contact area for insects’ adhesive pads. The strength of the effect depends on the geometry of the crystals which is determined by their chemical composition. This allows some species to fine-tune the slipperiness of individual trap surfaces. Maybe the most extraordinary trapping surface is found on the collar-shaped pitcher rim (peristome). A hierarchical ridge pattern combined with a smooth, moderately hydrophilic epicuticular wax layer renders this surface unusually wettable, causing water to spread and form a continuous thin film. Insects slip on this water layer, similar to a car tyre on a wet road. Overlapping epidermal cells create a series of microscopic steps leading into the pitcher. This directionality (anisotropy) not only aids the spreading of water against gravity, but also prevents insects from using their claws to climb out of the trap. Wetness-dependent slipperiness enables pitcher plants to temporally separate prey attraction and trapping, thereby promoting recruitment of ant workers to the trap and increasing their overall capture rate.

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1 - University of Bristol, School of Biological Sciences, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TQ, UK

plant-insect interactions
Carnivorous Plants
epicuticular wax
trapping mechanisms.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: C03, Evolution, ecology, development, and conservation of carnivorous plants
Location: 107/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Monday, July 23rd, 2018
Time: 1:45 PM
Number: C03002
Abstract ID:724
Candidate for Awards:None

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