Evolution and Systematics
Tiny transparent capsules found on bladderworts trap small prey via a resettable, vacuum-driven mechanism.
"Bladderworts also thrive here [on the Roraima tepui]. They are water plants found in wetlands in many parts of the world, including Britain, and they are so successful in trapping animals that they do not grow roots of any kind. Their traps, the bladders from which they get their name, are tiny transparent capsules. Glands on the inner surface of these are able to absorb water, and in doing so create a partial vacuum within. Each has a tiny door fringed with sensitive bristles. If a small water creature, such as a mosquito larva, touches one of these, the bristle acts as a lever, slightly distorting the edge of the door so that it no longer fits tightly on the rim. Water rushes in, sweeping the door inwards and with it, the little organism that touched the hair. The swirl of water within the capsule pushes the door back again and the prey is imprisoned. The whole action is completed within a fraction of a second. Once again, the glands start to suck out the water. Another set secretes digestive acids and the captive is killed, dissolved and consumed. The bladderwort has fed. Within two hours, the bladder's partial vacuum has been restored and the trap is reset." (Attenborough 1995:285-286)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:510
Specimens with Barcodes:382
Species With Barcodes:121
The genera Polypompholyx (two species of pink petticoats or fairy aprons) and Biovularia were formerly regarded as fourth and fifth members of this family. Biovularia has been subsumed into Utricularia, and Polypompholyx has been relegated to a subgenus of Utricularia. Placement of the family was previously in the Scrophulariales, which has been merged with Lamiales in the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system.
One common trait found in several Lamiales families that may have led to carnivory is the secretion of proteinase mucilage through leaf surfaces. This mucilage is generally used to prevent insect predation by trapping and degrading potentially harmful insects. Some research suggests these glands can quite easily shift their function from secretion to absorption. This shift may have first occurred in the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of the Lentibulariaceae, introducing absorptive glands that provided additional macronutrients through trapped insects. The additional source of nutrients may have increased fitness of plants growing in low-nutrient habitats which eventually caused an embrace of carnivory. Further mapping of traits also suggests the MRCA was terrestrial and possessed a basal rosette composed of flat leaves and a primary root.
- Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- Ellison, A. and Gotelli, N. (2009). "Energetics and the evolution of carnivorous plants-Darwin's 'most wonderful plants in the world'". Journal of Experimental Botany 60 (1): 19–42. doi:10.1093/jxb/ern179. PMID 19213724. (abstract here).
- Jobson, Richard W., Playford, Julia, Cameron, Kenneth M. and Albert, Victor A. (2003). "Molecular Phylogenetics of Lentibulariaceae Inferred from Plastid rps16 Intron and trnL-F DNA Sequences: Implications for Character Evolution and Biogeography". Systematic Botany 28: 157–171. (abstract here).
- K. Müller, T. Borsch, L. Legendre, S. Porembski, I. Theisen and W. Barthlott (2004). "Evolution of Carnivory in Lentibulariaceae and the Lamiales". Plant Biology (Stuttgart) 6 (4): 477–490. doi:10.1055/s-2004-817909. PMID 15248131. (abstract here).
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