Carnivory and photosynthesis in sundew

The growth of unfed D. capensis plants is P-limited, and this limitation is markedly alleviated by feeding on fruit flies, improving plant nutrient status.
Carnivory and photosynthesis in sundew
Carnivory and photosynthesis in sundew

Carnivorous plants grow in nutrient-poor habitats and obtain a substantial amount of nutrients from prey. Pavlovič et al. examine the full capture cycle of the carnivorous sundew Drosera capensis, including prey attraction, digestion and the subsequent benefits from nutrient uptake. They find that the red colour of the tentacles is not attractive for insect prey, and that mechanical stimulation alone of tentacles is not sufficient to induce full enzymatic activity. The uptake of phosphorus from prey is more efficient than that of nitrogen and causes the foliar N:P ratio to decrease. Stoichiometric relationships among different nutrients indicate that the growth of unfed D. capensis plants is P-limited, and this limitation is markedly alleviated by feeding on fruit flies, resulting in an improved plant nutrient status and photosynthetic performance.