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A Novel Trapping Mechanism in Nepenthes gracilis (S2)

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Published on Jun 16, 2012

Video S2: Effect of simulated rain on ants foraging on the underside of an isolated N. gracilis pitcher lid.

- Drip, Drip, Snatch!
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow...
When it rains, sometimes it's better to just get wet—especially when staying dry could mean being digested alive. That's the hard lesson for insects hiding from showers underneath the lid of the slender pitcher plant (Nepenthes gracilis). During a downpour, the carnivorous plants, native to the Sunda region of Southeast Asia, rely on heavy raindrops crashing on top of their lids to help catapult shelter-seeking insects into their tube-shaped, fluid-filled leaves, researchers report online today in PLoS ONE. Like a diver jumping on a swimming pool springboard, the pounding raindrops create vibrations throughout the lid that launch insects off its underside and directly into an awaiting acid bath. Previously, scientists thought the lid simply prevented rainwater from diluting the leaf's digestive pool. But upon further investigation, researchers realized the structure's prey-capturing function. The underside of the lid has evolved to be covered with wax crystals which interfere with the adhesive pads found on an insect's feet. The wax crystal layer is only semislippery, so when nothing is hitting the lid, an insect has little problem crawling upside down on it, and will often do so to collect nectar. But with sudden impacts like rainfall, an insect easily loses its footing on the surface—literally falling victim to the pitcher's fatal trap.

- Video: Drip, Drip, Snatch!
http://bcove.me/85a0ttwh
When it rains, sometimes it's better to just get wet—especially when staying dry could mean being digested alive. That's the hard lesson for insects hiding from showers underneath the lid of the slender pitcher plant.

Reference
With a Flick of the Lid: A Novel Trapping Mechanism in Nepenthes gracilis Pitcher Plants
PLoS ONE 7(6): e38951. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038951
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3...

Abstract
Carnivorous pitcher plants capture prey with modified leaves (pitchers), using diverse mechanisms such as 'insect aquaplaning' on the wet pitcher rim, slippery wax crystals on the inner pitcher wall, and viscoelastic retentive fluids. Here we describe a new trapping mechanism for Nepenthes gracilis which has evolved a unique, semi-slippery wax crystal surface on the underside of the pitcher lid and utilises the impact of rain drops to 'flick' insects into the trap. Depending on the experimental conditions (simulated 'rain', wet after 'rain', or dry), insects were captured mainly by the lid, the peristome, or the inner pitcher wall, respectively. The application of an anti-slip coating to the lower lid surface reduced prey capture in the field. Compared to sympatric N. rafflesiana, N. gracilis pitchers secreted more nectar under the lid and less on the peristome, thereby directing prey mainly towards the lid. The direct contribution to prey capture represents a novel function of the pitcher lid.

- Supporting Information Video
(a) Video S1: Effect of simulated rain on ants foraging on the underside of the pitcher lid of N. gracilis. (AVI)
http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchS...

(b) Video S2: Effect of simulated rain on ants foraging on the underside of an isolated N. gracilis pitcher lid. (AVI)
http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchS...

(c) Video S3: High-speed video recording (recording frame rate: 428 s-1, playback frame rate: 10 s-1) of a house fly ( Musca domestica ) being knocked off the underside of an N. gracilis lid by a simulated rain drop and captured.
http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchS...

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