Saturday, 23 June 2012

Pollutant turns fly-traps veggie


Predator plants may cut back on flies if they can access key nutrients elsewhere, according to research.
Scientists studying carnivorous sundew plants in Swedish bogs found that nitrogen deposition from rain reduced how many insects the plants trapped.
Pollution from transport and industry causes nitrogen-rich rain, meaning more reaches the ground in some areas.
"If there's plenty of nitrogen available to their roots, they don't eat as much" says Dr Jonathan Millett.
Dr Millett from Loughborough University led the study, which was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is being published in the New Phytologist journal.
The findings are based on tests on the round-leaved sundew plant,drosera rotundifolia. By measuring the amount of nitrogen of insect origin and comparing it to the amount taken up by the plant's roots, scientists could examine the proportions of each taken by plants in different locations.
They found that plants living in lightly polluted areas got 57% of their nitrogen from their prey. In more heavily polluted areas that figure dropped to between 20% and 30%.

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