Prey-induced responses in carnivorous Nepenthes

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Carnivorous plants of the genus Nepenthes catch and digest prey, mainly arthropods, in their pitcher traps in order to obtain additional nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate. The digestive character of the pitcher fluid is well known; other features of the fluid are less well understood, in particular the induction and regulation of its composition.

Chitin-induced nepenthesin activity in the pitcher fluid of Nepenthes alata.
Chitin-induced nepenthesin activity in the pitcher fluid of Nepenthes alata. Image Yilamujiang et al. (2016).

Here, Yilamujiang et al. study the induction of both phytohormones and digestion-related genes in the pitcher of Nepenthes alata. The authors demonstrate that insect prey as well as chitin is able to induce first jasmonate phytohormones which in turn can induce genes for digestive enzymes such as a protease, nepenthesin, or a chitinase suggesting a defined signaling pathway.

Reference

Ayufu Yilamujiang, Michael Reichelt, Axel Mithöfer, 2016, 'Slow food: insect prey and chitin induce phytohormone accumulation and gene expression in carnivorousNepenthesplants', Annals of Botany, vol. 118, no. 2, pp. 369-375 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw110


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