Northeastern University

How a plant eats its prey

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In a letter to his close friend geologist Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin once wrote, “I care more about the Drosera than the origin of all the species in the world.”

He had become obsessed with the carniverous plant, which wraps when it receives signal from its tentacles that nitrogen is nearby. A fly or a piece of meat would induce this mechanism, but a droplet of water would not. Darwin was fascinated and fond that it was more responsive to touch than any nerve in the human body.

Mechanical engineering professor Moneesh Upmanyu is also fascinated by this curious creature. He has taken on an entirely new research trajectory to study the mechanics of this curling behavior and will be sharing his results in a few months.

In the mean time, check out this video of a Drosera (aka Sundew) chowing on a fruit fly.


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