TitleFluorescence labelling of phosphatase activity in digestive glands of carnivorous plants
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsPlachno, BJ, Adamec, L, Lichtscheidl, IK, Peroutka, M, Adlassnig, W, Vrba, J
JournalPlant Biology

A new ELF (enzyme labelled fluorescence) assay was applied to detect phosphatase activity in glandular structures of 47 carnivorous plant species, especially Lentibulariaceae, in order to understand their digestive activities. We address the following questions: (1) Are phosphatases produced by the plants and/or by inhabitants of the traps? (2) Which type of hairs/glands is involved in the production of phosphatases? (3) Is this phosphatase production a common feature among carnivorous plants or is it restricted to evolutionarily advanced species? Our results showed activity of the phosphatases in glandular structures of the majority of the plants tested, both from the greenhouse and from sterile culture. in addition, extracellular phosphatases can also be produced by trap inhabitants. In Utricularia, activity of phosphatase was detected in internal glands of 27 species from both primitive and advanced sections and different ecological groups. Further positive reactions were found in Genlisea, Pinguicula, Aldrovanda, Dionaea, Drosera, Drosophyllum, Nepenthes, and Cephalotus. In Utricularia and Genlisea, enzymatic secretion was independent of stimulation by prey. Byblis and Roridula are usually considered as "proto-carnivores", lacking digestive enzymes. However, we found high activity of phosphatases in both species. Thus, they should be classified as true carnivores. We suggest that the inflorescence of Byblis and some Pinguicula species might also be an additional "carnivorous organ", which can trap a prey, digest it, and finally absorb available nutrients.