Plant Eats Worms Underground

You've read about plants that eat animals, like the Venus Flytrap and the Pitcher Plant. Philcoxia does it, too, but you can't see it, because this Brazilian plant works underground, using sticky leaves that grow under the soil. Researchers Caio Pereira and Peter Fritsch have been studying how Philcoxia gets its nutrients.
In 2007, Peter Fritsch found a possible answer. He noticed nematode worms stuck to the underground leaves, and reasoned that the plant was trapping and digesting them. Pereira, working with Fritsch, has now confirmed this hypothesis.

He found that Philcoxia’s underground leaves are littered with the bodies of dead nematodes. To check that the deaths aren’t coincidental, Pereira bred nematodes so that their bodies were full of nitrogen-15 – a rare and heavier-than-usual version of the element. He then “fed” the nematodes to Philcoxia. Two days later, Pereira found that 15 percent of the nitrogen-15 in the worms has been incorporated into the plant’s leaves. It was clear proof that Philcoxia was digesting the nematodes and absorbing the remains into their bodies.

Many meat-eating plants digest their prey with high concentrations of enzymes called phosphatases. Philcoxia does so too. Pereira found loads of the enzymes on Philcoxia’s leaves, which means that the plants are probably digesting the nematodes directly.

Read more at Not Exactly Rocket Science. Link

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