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Evidence of Protocarnivorous Capabilities in Geranium viscosissimum and Potentilla arguta and Other Sticky Plants

George G. Spomer
International Journal of Plant Sciences
Vol. 160, No. 1 (January 1999), pp. 98-101
DOI: 10.1086/314109
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/314109
Page Count: 4
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Evidence of Protocarnivorous Capabilities in
Geranium viscosissimum and Potentilla arguta and
Other Sticky Plants
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Abstract

There is reason to believe that some glandular or “sticky” plants should be protocarnivorous, that is, be capable of digesting arthropods or other organic items trapped on the surface and absorbing the N breakdown products for use in the plant. This possibility was investigated extensively in two sticky species, Geranium viscosissimum F. & M. var. viscosissimum and Potentilla arguta Pursh, which are common in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. These were tested for ability to digest proteins and absorb breakdown products. Initially, a gelatin‐casein film was used to assay for proteinase activity. Results indicated that both species were capable of digesting trapped protein. Proteinase activity was further verified by application of 14C‐labeled algal protein to glandular surfaces. Furthermore, the breakdown products were absorbed and translocated. Another 17 sticky species were also tested for proteinase activity using the gelatin‐casein film, and 13 tested positive. These results imply that protocarnivory is common among sticky species. The apparently common occurrence of protocarnivory has potentially important ecologic and practical ramifications.

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