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2017-05-19. Genetic Tidying Up Made Humped Bladderworts Into Carnivorous Plants.

posted Jun 3, 2017, 4:04 AM by Alan Gould
By Joanna Klein, The New York Times. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: ...the humped bladderwort ...grows pretty, yellow flowers, and it has no roots to hold it down. To get the nutrients it needs, it spends its time floating in lakes and waterways eating miniature crustaceans, called water fleas, and other things. It operates sort of like an aquatic Venus flytrap, but a hundred times faster. It feeds by dangling tiny vacuous sacs from its stems into the water. These bladders, just a few millimeters big (with walls only two cells thick), are normally filled with water. But when the trap is set, the plant pumps the water out, creating a vacuum and a mouth, which is covered in tiny hairs. “When a prey animal stimulates those trigger hairs — whoosh,” said Victor Albert, an evolutionary plant biologist at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo. The bladderwort can trap dinner in less than a millisecond. More than just a remarkable carnivorous plant, in genetic terms, it is a minimalist. It has the smallest reliably sequenced genome of any flowering plant. Inside that genome, it carries only the stuff it needs to function as a plant and uphold its strange identity. But its envious life took millions of years of evolutionary refinement, according to a study published by Dr. Albert and his colleagues on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. With new tools that allowed researchers to observe the plant’s genome more closely than ever before, they were able to see just what type of genetic changes created this flesh-eating plant....  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/science/humped-bladderwort-carnivorous-plant-genome.html