Saturday, 23 February 2013

Carnivorous plant species glow blue to lure prey

By Michelle Warwicker, BBC Nature

Some carnivorous plants act as blue "fluorescent lamps" to lure prey, according to scientists in India.

The research team discovered blue fluorescent emissions from the plants' "capture spots" when tested in ultraviolet (UV) light.

Carnivorous plants are known to attract insects with nectar, colours and smells.

But the alluring blue glow reveals a new prey capture mechanism in some species, according to the findings.

The study, published in the journal Plant Biology, was carried out by scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.

"These distinct blue emissions were so far not known in carnivorous prey traps," said research team member Dr Sabulal Baby.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study reporting such strong and distinct fluorescence emissions in the plant kingdom."

Significant signals
The team found the blue emissions, caused by molecular mechanisms, in "prey traps" of pitcher plants Nepenthes and Sarracenia and in Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula).

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