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Laboratory Report

Articles: Laboratory Report

Too Much of a Good Thing
Sundew plants (Drosera) occupy an interesting ecological niche. The evolutionary success of so-called “carnivorous” plants is attributed to their ability to thrive in nitrogen-scarce habitats. What happens, though, when nitrogen in the form of industrial pollution is free, and there is no selective pressure for carnivorous plants to work for nitrogen acquisition? Researchers in Sweden analyzed the nitrogen isotopes in sundew plants to determine what proportion of nitrogen is acquired from either soil or insects. In areas where nitrogen pollution was more available in soil, the sundew plants used the soil nitrogen and scaled back the expensive strategy of luring and trapping insects. Plants in these areas were larger and were less red, perhaps because they did not need to attract as many insects. Although this might seem to be a good thing for the sundew, in the long run, they are still carnivorous plants by design, and may not be able to compete well enough with the other nearby plants.

New Phytologist, 195, Vol 1, 182-188
Stretching to Cool Off
Mouse-ear cress (Arabidopsis) is the lab rat of the plant world. Scientists growing these plants at higher-...

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