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Timothy McDougald



Posts: 1009
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 11 2012,10:58   

Carnivorous plants are going vegetarian! From PhysOrg:

Quote
Scientists have theorised that plants adopt the carnivorous lifestyle when they can't get enough nitrogen through the more conventional means of absorbing it with their roots. Catching and eating insects provides another source of nitrogen, but it's hardly an ideal solution.

Plants have to spend lots of energy on the specialized equipment; once a species has gone down this path, it finds it hard to compete with non-carnivorous rivals outside its favoured nitrogen-poor setting. These results lend support to that theory - when plants can get away with it, they scale back on their carnivorous activities.

"In the sites with more nitrogen deposition, these plants now get much more of their nitrogen from their roots, but they still have to bear the residual costs of being carnivorous, and other plants without these will be better able to survive," Millett comments. "So it's quite likely we'll see less abundance and perhaps local extinctions from carnivorous species. The individual plants get bigger and fitter, but the species as a whole is less well adapted to high-nitrogen environments and will lose out over time."

This study confirms that it's not just a matter of the plants absorbing more root nitrogen, causing a steady level of prey nitrogen to become more diluted. The level of prey nitrogen actually falls, suggesting the plants are somehow limiting their insect-catching activities, presumably to save energy.


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Church burning ebola boy

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