Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bladderwort: Fastest Slurp in the Pond

"Killer Plant Sucks in Prey at Record Speed"
Jennifer Viegas, Earth News, Discovery News (February 15, 2011)

"Aquatic, meat-eating bladderworts are among the world's best suckers and they have just been named the fastest trapping carnivorous plants, according to a Proceedings of the Royal Society B study.

"Their traps suck in prey in less than a millisecond, making this one of the speediest movements in the entire plant kingdom.

" 'The popular Dionea (Venus fly trap) is one hundred times slower,' co-author Philippe Marmottant told Discovery News...."

The article links to this video:

"The ultra-fast trap of an aquatic carnivorous plant"

PMarmottant, YouTube (February 9, 2011)
video, 3:48

"Aquatic carnivorous bladderworts (Utricularia species) catch prey animals with suction traps. High speed video recordings show that the plant "swallows" its prey in less than a millisecond!..."

The video's narrator probably leaned English as a second language - so be ready for some non-standard syntax. It's a well-done mini-documentary, in the Lemming's opinion.

The Discovery News article tells how the bladderwort slurps so fast:

"...The investigations showed that glands in each plant first pump water out of a closed trap.

" 'This deflates the trap and stores elastic energy, like the stored energy in a bent bow, and also generates a depression inside, like with a rubber pipette,' Marmottant explained.

"During the second actual trapping phase, the stored elastic energy is released.

" 'The firing starts when sensitive trigger hairs located on the (trap) door are touched,' he said. 'We showed that, because of the inside depression, the door is already on the verge of inverting towards the interior. The curvature inversion of the door is an abrupt event known as an 'elastic buckling' phenomenon, and happens in everyday life when a curved elastic wall is set under depression, like a balloon or plastic bottle.'..."

Some plants act faster than the bladderwort - but those are one-shot explosive events. The bladderwort can reset its traps something like a hundred times.

Impressive, at lest to the Lemming.

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