Snap Trap Evolution
2017-November-08 ------------------ Aldrovanda snap trap
I was trying to determine how this snap trap closes its lobes....
This article by Joyeux & Poppinga claims that the snap trap mechanisms by the Venus flytrap (Dionaea) and the waterwheel plant (Aldrovanda) are totally different (and some articles quoting this article are even implying independent origins of these snap traps.). I beg to disagree totally...
I looked at the above video many times to see if I can tell if the snapping motion is caused by the deformation of the trap midrib (hinged motion) or by the warping of the larger area of the trap (near the midrib). Looking at the closed picture, and comparing it with the open trap picture, it is very difficult to see which portion of the trap lobes has caused the snapping. In the video, the left picture is a view from the tip of the trap, and the right picture is a lateral view of the same trap. In the left view, the camera is placed not straight along the line of the midrib, but a tiny bit lower, so that the bottom of the trap (and the midrib) is seen. Even so, the end point of the trap is obvious where the lobe opening ends. Let us call this Point A. Another point I focused on is at the midpoint of the end of the "motile" region (motor zone) of the lobe. Let us call this Point B. After some brain-storming, I decided to measure the distance between Point A and Point B - in order to determine if the snapping is due to the midrib hinging or the wall warping in the motor zone. Note that when I say the distance between A and B, I do not mean the actual distance between the two points, rather, what I am interested in is the projected distance, that is, projected on the left view. This is the idea: If the snap is due to the hinged rotation about Point A, there would be no difference in the A-B distance before and after the trap snap since there is no deformation of each lobe. However, if there is any lobe warping in the region, the arc A-B is stronger, and the distance A-B gets shorter after lobe closure.
Aldrovanda vesiculosa snap trap closure
Well, based on my repeated
trials of measuring the screen image of this video, I concluded that, indeed,
the A-B distance got shorter (in the left view of the video) after trap
snapping, and therefore, the Aldrovanda closure is driven by warping of
the motor zone of the lobes. This is in concert with the traditionally-held
view by many past investigators, including ...
Snap Trap Evolved Only Once
... in the common ancestor
of Aldrovanda and Dionaea.....We are not saying that the snap trap
mechanisms we see today in the extant species are identical - of course, there
are some differences. One is terrestrial, the other is aquatic, both well
fine-tuned in their respective environment. After all, both lineages have 30-40
million years of completely separate evolutionary paths. What I am saying is
that we do well seeking similarities - rather than dissimilarities - when we
strive to unlock the mystery and wonder of these "most wonderful plants in the
Last update : 2017-Nov-05 ------------------ Observations of the trap
Molecular phylogenetics strongly points to a common origin of the two snap traps (Aldrovanda & Dionaea).
This most likely
means that the snap trap mechanism evolved only once -- therefore, the basic
mechanism for these snap traps must be similar... actually identical...
The molecular evidence further indicates that Aldrovanda and Dionaea form a clade that is sister to Drosera (sundews). This strongly suggests that the common ancestor of Aldrovanda & Dionaea came from an ancient sundew-like plant. This implies the mechanism responsible for the snap traps is most likely derived from a sundew-like plant --- its tentacle bending and leaf folding.
The basic mechanism for leaf motion common throughout Drosera-Aldrovanda-Dionaea evolution is most likely to be a sudden (or relatively quick) drop of turgor pressure on one side of the structure in question, creating an imbalance of pressure on the structure to cause it to bend.... In this process, the other side (epidermis) might be forced to stretch a bit .... The recovery of the bending (or snapping for that matter) is achieved as a result of the side (epidermis) that lost turgor pressure restoring its lost pressure and then some to counter the stretch of the other side. This is accomplished by slow, normal, actual growth.
1. Drosera (sundews) ---- Illustrations
cells : epidermal cells at the tip of tentacle (covered by two layers of
2. Aldrovanda (waterwheel plant) ---- Illustrations
Sensory cells :
3. Dionaea (Venus flytrap) ---- Illustrations
Sensory cells :
embedded in the indentation at the base of the trigger hair
EVOLUTION : DROSERA - ALDROVANDA - DIONAEA ------------ Which came first..... Aldrovanda, of course!
Molecular phylogenetic reconstruction clearly points to the common origin of these snap traps....
Overwhelming molecular evidence supports common origin of these (extant) snap traps using different regions of DNA sequence (mat K, ...Chloroplast rbcL... etc)
Which lineage evolved first --- Aldrovanda or Dionaea?
further suggests the common
ancestor of these snap traps diverged from the ancient sticky-leaved
sundew plant - the ancestor of the extant basal taxa such as D. regia (see midrib)
flower parts: Petal / sepal / seed / pistil / stamen / pollen / stigma / placenta
The structure of
the mesophyll of the Venus flytrap leaves is more like that of aquatic
1) Lloyd (p.182) - In Venus flytrap, the trap tilts to the right - mainly in younger plants, just like the clear bend seen in the Aldrovanda trap (see Lloyd/Darwin) --- Regarding this trap posture, Lloyd commented on the distinct advantage for Aldrovanda but no benefit for Dionaea. However, Lloyd did not extend that to an evolutionary context.
2) Lloyd (p.181) comments on a young Venus flytrap (2 mm trap) ----> "The number of parenchyma cells ranges between two to four courses with large interspaces, in this feature again resembling the mature leaves of Aldrovanda much more than do the thicker mature leaves of Dionaea."
Copyright (c) 2017 Makoto Honda. All Rights Reserved.