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Diet of contaminated insects harms endangered carnivorous plants

Date:
April 5, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Consumption of insects contaminated with a toxic metal may be a factor in the mysterious global decline of carnivorous plants. New research reveals how meals of contaminated insects have adverse effects on the plants.

Sarracenia leucophylla.
Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Scientists in the UK are reporting evidence that consumption of insects contaminated with a toxic metal may be a factor in the mysterious global decline of carnivorous plants. Their study describes how meals of contaminated insects have adverse effects on the plants.

It appears in ACS' semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Iain Green and Christopher Moody note that many species of carnivorous plants -- which have the amazing ability to lure, trap and digest insects -- have become endangered through habitat loss, illegal poaching, and pollution. One potential threat to these meat-eating plants is exposure to insect prey contaminated with certain metals, which can harm plants by interfering with water and nutrient uptake. However, scientists know little about how such metals actually affect the plants. Two metals of particular concern are copper, a nutrient important for plant health, and cadmium, a toxic metal found in fertilizers, metal coatings, and other products. It can accumulate in the environment through improper waste disposal.

They fed contaminated house fly maggots to a group of endangered white-topped pitcher plants (Sarracenia leucophylla) and found that cadmium accumulated in the plants' stems in a way that can be toxic and disrupt growth. By contrast, the plants easily processed and controlled copper intake and the metal did not appear to cause any toxic effects, the scientists say. The findings emphasize the importance of limiting carnivorous plants' exposure to cadmium, they suggest.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christopher Moody, Iain D. Green. Assimilation of Cd and Cu by the Carnivorous Plant Sarracenia leucophylla Raf. fed Contaminated Prey. Environmental Science & Technology, 2010; 44 (5): 1610 DOI: 10.1021/es9019386

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Diet of contaminated insects harms endangered carnivorous plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122648.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, April 5). Diet of contaminated insects harms endangered carnivorous plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122648.htm
American Chemical Society. "Diet of contaminated insects harms endangered carnivorous plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122648.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

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