Carnivorous plant’s deadly recipe reveals antibacterials

10 February 2008


Nepenthes alata - also known as the pitcher plant for its bottle-shaped leaves - is a killer.

It attracts insects with a sweet-smelling chemical broth and then dissolves the poor, unsuspecting creatures as they fall, intoxicated into the depths of its inescapable trap.

This evil and rather exciting green carnivore has now had its secret recipe revealed by scientists in Japan, who have separated the proteins by gel electrophoresis and matched them to proteins in a public database.

And some of its sweet but deadly proteins are natural antibiotics. By inhibiting bacterial growth, the plant can absorb as much nutrition as possible from its tiny victim, without any competition from bugs.

Nepenthes alata - The Pitcher Plant



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