Abstract Detail

Evolution, ecology, development, and conservation of carnivorous plants

Fukushima, Kenji [1].

The limited evolutionary routes to carnivorous plants.

Although evolutionary processes are largely stochastic, natural selection can drive recurrent adaptations leading to convergence, the repeated emergence of similar features in distantly related organisms. Prevalence of phenotypic convergence is underpinned by various examples throughout the entire tree of life, such as camera eyes of vertebrates and cephalopods, wings of birds and bats, and trap leaves of distantly related carnivorous plants. Because the multiple emergence of such complex traits by neutral evolution alone is extremely unlikely, convergence has been considered strong evidence for natural selection. Carnivorous plants are a prominent example of convergence in 200 million years of flowering plant evolution. They exploit animals as a nutritional source and have inspired long-standing questions about the origin and evolution of carnivory-related traits since Charles Darwin’s pioneering work. Although there are distinct types of trapping strategies, their trap leaves look critically similar in both form and function among distantly related lineages with more than 100 million years of divergence time. During the evolution to become carnivorous, each lineage has acquired a common set of novel traits such as nectar and scent for prey attraction, specialized leaf morphology for prey trapping, digestive enzymes for prey degradation, and transporters for nutrient absorption. In this talk, I will present the evidence of adaptive convergence in carnivorous plants at the molecular level, especially focusing on digestive enzymes. Analysis of digestive fluid proteins from four carnivorous plants covering three independent lineages revealed repeated co-options of stress-responsive proteins coupled with convergent amino acid substitutions to acquire digestive physiology. This result implies strong constraints on the available routes to evolve plant carnivory.

Related Links:

1 - RIKEN, E618 East Research Building, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa, 230-0045, Japan

Carnivorous Plants
convergent evolution.

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Abstract ID:98
Candidate for Awards:None

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