|dethalternate||Date: Friday, 13-January-2012, 6:27 PM | Message # 1|
-- dragon lord--
|In the kind of discovery seldom seen in modern biology, scientists say they have discovered a carnivorous Brazilian plant that uses sticky, subterranean leaves to catch and digest worms—an evolutionary strategy for acquiring nutrients that has never before been observed in the plant kingdom. |
Researchers say that the rare plant, known to scientists as Philcoxia minensis, has only been found in a handful of increasingly rare savannah regions in inland Brazil.
In a report of their findings published in the online version of the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers described the plant, noting that in addition to the thin, millimeter-wide leaves that grow above the earth’s surface, the majority of the plant’s curious leaves grow below the sandy surface, where the its sticky, finger-like projections are used to capture small passing worms.
“We usually think about leaves only as photosynthetic organs, so at first sight, it looks awkward that a plant would place its leaves underground where there is less sunlight,” explained Brazilian plant ecologist Rafael Silva Oliveira from the State University of Campinas in Brazil to Charles Choi of LiveScience.
The mystery for the researchers, said Oliveira, was “why would evolution favor the persistence of this apparently unfavorable trait?”
Upon closer examination, scientists began to suspect that P. minensis’ bizarre underground leaves might be used for hunting when they noticed that the tiny structures bore a number of similar characteristics in common with other known meat-eating plants. For instance, the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)—the most well-known of all predatory plants—also has gland-covered leaves which rest upon long stalks and help the animal detect its prey. And like its Brazilian counterpart, Venus flytraps are also found in areas with poor soil, which explains the evolutionary adaptations for obtaining nutrients from an external source.
Full article/source - http://www.redorbit.com/news....-brazil