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Venus Flytrap
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Snaring bigger bugs gave flytraps evolutionary edge
Carnivorous plants defy our expectations of how plants should behave, with Venus flytraps employing nerve-like reflexes and powerful digestive enzymes to capture and consume fresh meat.
The evolutionary history of these botanical oddities is now a bit clearer, thanks to new work.
In a paper in the August issue of the journal New Phytologist, UWMadison botanist Don Waller and ecologist Thomas Gibson explored the evolution of the so-called "snap trap" carnivorous plants, including the rare but familiar Venus flytrap.

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the Venus Flytrap, was first discovered within in a meteor impact crater in Green Swamp, North Carolina and today only naturally occurs in a 60-mile radius around that site.
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The Venus Flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, is a carnivorous plant that catches and digests animal prey - mostly insects and arachnids.
The Venus-flytrap has its only native habitat in a 60 mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina, where it grows in peat filled sink holes.
Colonial Governor Arthur Dobbs discovered the Venus-flytrap in 1760.

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Nepenthes attenboroughii
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A new species of giant carnivorous plant has been discovered in the highlands of the central Philippines.
The pitcher plant is among the largest of all pitchers and is so big that it can catch rats and well as insects in its leafy trap.

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RE: Plants
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Oldest pot plant 'in the world' repotted
The huge Jurassic cycad, Encephalartos altensteninii, was collected by Kew's first plant hunter Francis Masson, from the Eastern Cape region of South Africa in the early 1770s.

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The origin of the voracious Venus flytrap has been uncovered.
The flytrap, and one other carnivorous snap-trap plant which grows underwater, evolved from a more conventional relative that had sticky leaves.
Over time, the plants added elaborate structures and weapons such as trigger hairs and teeth to trap and immobilise their meaty prey, botanists say.
Ultimately, the need to hunt and eat ever larger animals drove the plants' evolution, say the scientists.

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'10,000-year-old' seeds debunked
The oldest viable seeds in the world, dating from the Pleistocene era, are not what we thought.
New dating techniques have revealed that the seeds, which have been grown into live Arctic lupine plants, are not 10,000 years old as believed.
Instead they are modern seeds which contaminated ancient rodent burrows.

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Titan Arum
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Visitors to the Kew Gardens in Britain are set to see the world's smelliest flowers coming into bloom this week.
However, they have been warned to keep away as the flowers emit a smell of rotting flesh.
The Titan Arum, which is native to Indonesia, flowers just once every six or seven years.

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RE: Plants
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Les plus anciennes traces de plantes vasculaires terrestres, découvertes en Arabie Saoudite, datent de 450 millions d'années.
Une équipe internationale de chercheurs Belges, Britanniques, Français (Domaines océaniques - INSU-CNRS/ IUEM Brest et Géosciences Rennes INSU-CNRS/Université de Rennes 1), et d'Arabie Saoudite * décrivent cette semaine dans la revue Science un assemblage spectaculaire de spores de plantes vasculaires présents dans des sédiments d'Arabie Saoudite datant de l'Ordovicien supérieur (-460 à -443 millions d'années). Cette découverte replace l'origine et la radiation adaptative des plantes vasculaires, une étape importante de l'invasion des continents par les plantes, plusieurs millions d'années avant ce que l'on imaginait antérieurement, et sur le Gondwana.

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Photosynthesis
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Researchers taking a second look at ancient sediments have concluded that they do not represent the earliest traces of the rise of oxygen-producing organisms on Earth as previously thought. The findings come as a relief to some scientists, whose data had been in conflict with an earlier study with the same sediments that suggested oxygen first emerged in the planet's atmosphere some 300 million years later.

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RE: Plants
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The evolutionary Tree of Life for flowering plants has been revealed using the largest collection of genomic data of these plants to date, report scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and University of Florida.
The scientists, publishing two papers in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week online, found that the two largest groups of flowering plants, monocots (grasses and their relatives) and eudicots (including sunflowers and tomatoes), are more closely related to each other than to any of the other major lineages.
The analyses also confirmed that a unique species of plant called Amborella, found only on the Pacific island of New Caledonia, represents the earliest diverging lineage of flowering plants.
Robert Jansen, professor of integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin, said the work sets the stage for all future comparative studies of flowering plants.

If you are interested in understanding the evolution of flowering plants, you cant do that unless you understand their relationships - Robert Jansen.

The University of Florida team, led by Doug and Pam Soltis, also showed that the major diversification of flowering plants, so stunning that the researchers are calling it the Big Bang, took place in the comparatively short period of less than five million years. This resulted in all five major lineages of flowering plants present today.

Flowering plants today comprise around 400,000 species. To think that the burst that gave rise to almost all of these plants occurred in less than five million years is pretty amazingespecially when you consider that flowering plants as a group have been around for at least 130 million years - Pam Soltis, curator at the universitys Florida Museum of Natural History.

The details of the flowering plants rapid diversification have remained a mystery since Charles Darwin first suggested their evolutionary history is an abominable mystery.

One of the reasons why it has been hard to understand evolutionary relationships among the major groups of flowering plants is because they diversified over such a short time frame - Robert Jansen.

But by analysing DNA sequences from completely sequenced chloroplast genomes, the scientists brought some clarity to the evolutionary picture.
Jansen and his colleagues at The University of Texas at Austin analysed DNA sequences of 81 genes from the chloroplast genome of 64 species of plants, while the Florida researchers analysed 61 genes from 45 species. The two groups also performed a combined analysis, which produced evolutionary trees that included all of the major groups of flowering plants.
As for the diversifications cause, it remains mysterious, Pam and Doug Soltis said.
Its possible it was spurred by some major climatic event. Its also possible that a new evolutionary trait a more efficient water-conducting cell that transfers water up plant stemsproved so effective that it spurred massive plant growth. This cell type is not present in the first three flowering plant lineages, said Doug Soltis, professor of botany at Florida.

Source : University of Texas at Austin

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