Review paper on fast plant movements published in Proceedings B

Our first publication of 2021 is a review paper on the use of elastic structures in rapid trap movements of carnivorous plants. The Venus Flytrap is famous for its fast-moving snap traps, but other carnivorous plants are even faster. The underwater suction traps of bladderworts suck up prey like miniature high-speed hoovers, and the pitcher plant Nepenthes gracilis uses a rain-powered springboard to catapult ants into a pool of digestive fluid. Together with international carnivorous plant experts Simon Poppinga (Freiburg Botanic Garden) and Ulrike Müller (Fresno State University), we explain how each of these traps use elastic energy – similar to an archery bow – to increase power output rate and movement speed. We discuss how plants save physiological energy by exploiting external power sources such as falling raindrops, but at the expense of control over the timing and magnitude of their movements. The paper was published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and can be accessed free of charge here.