Bladderworts Ultrafast Suction Trap Killer Plant

Utricularia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Utricularia, commonly and collectively called the bladderworts, is a genus of carnivorous plants consisting of approximately 227 species (precise counts differ based on classification opinions; one recent publication lists 215 species).[1] They occur in fresh water and wet soil as terrestrial or aquatic species across every continent except Antarctica. Utricularia are cultivated for their flowers, which are often compared with those of snapdragons and orchids, and among carnivorous plant enthusiasts.

Utricularia, Carnivorous Plants Online - Botanical Society of America

Utricularia - The Bladderwort

TRAP TYPE: Suction Trap
Currently 220 listed species occupying temperate and tropical habitats throughout the world--the most diverse and widespread genus of carnivorous plants.
Utricularia (bladderwort, Figure 2), a plant named for its tiny bladders, or utricles. Unlike the other carnivorous plants discussed here, Utricularia often lives in open water, but again where the nutrient concentration is relatively low. One common habitat is in the nutrient-poor bog lakes. In the open water, it supplements its nutrients by trapping insects in a bladder that is like a suction bulb (Figure 1, Figure 4, and Figure 5). Tiny hairlike projections at the opening of the bladder are sensitive to the motion of passing organisms like Daphnia (water fleas). When they are stimulated, these hairs cause the flattened bladder to suddenly inflate, sucking in water and the passing animal and closing a trap door after it.

Discovery News

Killer Plant Sucks in Prey at Record Speed

  • Bladderworts have just been named the world's fastest trapping carnivorous plants.
  • These aquatic meat-eaters suck and trap prey in less than a millisecond.
  • The sucking and trapping mechanism is among the fastest movements in the entire plant kingdom.

Carnivorous Bladderworts Suck Up Prey - Science News

Carnivorous bladderworts trap prey with speed that would make a Bond villain shudder in gleeful envy.

Using high-speed cameras, researchers have gotten the first good look at how these underwater plants spring their ambushes. Bladderworts sport trap doors that buckle in with a tiny nudge, creating a whirlpool that sucks in wee critters — all in about half a millisecond. That’s some of the fastest plant action on Earth, a French and German team reports online February 15 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Small or not, the traps are masterpieces of suction. Pumped nearly dry, the chambers set up a pressure difference between the plant’s innards and the water outside. When swimmers brush up against a series of hairs along the trap door, the door bursts open and sucks water and crustaceans alike in.

Despite decades of interest in these nefarious plants, botanists couldn’t say for sure how the traps worked. Bladderworts were just too quick for old-school cameras. But with fancy new high-speed cameras, biologists can get their close-ups, says Adamec.