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July 10, 2020
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New England Carnivorous Plant Society

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"The mission of the New England Carnivorous Plant Society shall be to share, to gain knowledge of, and to achieve expertise in all phases of growing, education, appreciation, and conservation of carnivorous plants in both culture and in native habitats."

AnnouncementsWhat's New
NECPS July Meeting CANCELED

We are sorry to announce that the July meeting of the NECPS which was scheduled to take place at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center on July 18th has been CANCELED due to concerns relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Governor Gina Raimondo is now beginning to reopen the State and we look forward to the time when our meetings can resume.

You can read the Phase 3 reopening details here: What To Expect In Phase 3 Of Reopening

All future meetings this year and even our Annual Show should be considered tentative and subject to change.

All Dues Renewals Postponed to January 2021

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic it has been one crazy year! We have only been able to hold just 2 meetings so far this year! And we may not be able to hold our popular Annual Fall Show this year and may have to come up with some kind of "Virtual Show".

It is because of this that NECPS President Dave Sackett has announced that there will be No Membership Dues required for 2020. All currently active NECPS Members will have their memberships extended into 2021.

No decision has been made yet on the show. The options are still cancel, virtual or outdoors.

Thanks Dave for making this important decision and for keeping the NECPS strong throughout these difficult times!

How Venus flytraps evolved their taste for meat

How does a plant develop a taste for flesh? In the play Little Shop of Horrors, all it takes is a drop of human blood. But in real life, it takes much more. Now, a study of three closely related carnivorous plants suggests dextrous genetic shuffling helped them evolve the ability to catch and digest protein-rich meals.

Carnivorous plants have developed many devious ways to snare prey. Pitcher plants, for example, use "pitfall traps" that contain enzymes for digesting stray insects. Others-including the closely related Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), the aquatic waterwheel plant (Aldrovanda vesiculosa), and the sundew (Drosera spatulata)-use moving traps. The sundew rolls up its sticky landing pad when mosquitoes get caught. And the Venus flytrap uses modified leaves, or pads, that snap shut when an insect lands-but only after the pads sense multiple touches on their trigger hairs.

To find out how these traps evolved, researchers led by computational evolutionary biologist Jörg Schultz and plant biologist Rainer Hedrich, both of the University of Würzburg, sequenced the genomes of the sundew, the aquatic waterwheel, and the Venus flytrap, which are all closely related. They then compared their genomes with those of nine other plants, including a carnivorous pitcher plant and noncarnivorous beetroot and papaya plants.

They found that the key to the evolution of meat eating in this part of the plant kingdom was the duplication of the entire genome in a common ancestor that lived about 60 million years ago, the team reports today in Current Biology. That duplication freed up copies of genes once used in roots, leaves, and sensory systems to detect and digest prey. For example, carnivorous plants repurposed copies of genes that help roots absorb nutrients, to absorb the nutrients in digested prey. "That root genes are being expressed in the leaves of carnivores is absolutely fascinating," says Kenneth Cameron, a botanist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Hedrich and his colleagues conclude that carnivory evolved once in the ancestor of the three species and, independently, in the pitcher plant. Adding these two new origins to others already documented, the researchers conclude that meat eating has evolved at least six times.

Read the Full Article Here

Biomechanical analyses and computer simulations reveal the Venus flytrap snapping mechanisms

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) takes only 100 milliseconds to trap its prey. Once their leaves, which have been transformed into snap traps, have closed, insects can no longer escape. Using biomechanical experiments and virtual Venus flytraps a team from Freiburg Botanical Garden and the University of Stuttgart has analyzed in detail how the lobes of the trap move. Freiburg biologists Dr. Anna Westermeier, Max Mylo, Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck and Dr. Simon Poppinga and Stuttgart structural engineer Renate Sachse and Prof. Dr. Manfred Bischoff show that the trap of the carnivorous plant is under mechanical prestress. In addition, its three tissue layers of each lobe have to deform according to a special pattern. The team has published its results in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The diet of the Venus flytrap consists mainly of crawling insects. When the animals touch the sensory hairs inside the trap twice within about 20 seconds it snaps shut. Aspects such as how the trap perceives its prey and how it differentiates potential prey from a raindrop falling into the trap were already well known to scientists. However the precise morphing process of the halves of the trap remained largely unknown.

In order to gain a better understanding of these processes, the researchers have analyzed the interior and exterior surfaces of the trap using digital 3-D image correlation methods. Scientists typically use these methods for the examination of technical materials. Using the results the team then constructed several virtual traps in a finite element simulation that differ in their tissue layer setups and in the mechanical behavior of the layers.

Read the Full Article Here

Got News?
Have an idea for a presentation or demonstration? If there is a meeting or other event that the NECPS will be participating in, or some other carnivorous plant related news item that you would like to share? Please forward the information to the Webmaster so that it can be included here.

Missing our newsletter? Has your email address changed? You can update your email address or other contact information by visiting the Contact page.

Membership Dues are payable at or before the January meeting.

This is an excerpt from the Spring section of the upcoming nonprofit documentary CAPTIVATED: The Allure of Carnivorous Plants (2020). Segment features documentary subject Matthew Kaelin and the carnivorous sundew Drosera filiformis (the threadleaf sundew).

New Species of Pitcher Plant Discovered in Philippines

The newly-discovered species belongs to Nepenthes, a genus of tropical pitcher plants in the monotypic family Nepenthaceae.

The genus comprises over 170 species, mostly native to Madagascar, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The greatest diversity occurs on Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines, with many endemic species.

Also known as monkey cups (because monkeys have been observed drinking rainwater from these plants), all Nepenthes species are carnivorous plants that capture their prey by means of modified pitcher-shaped leaves that function as passive pitfall traps.

Attracted by nectar secreted from the underside of the trap's lid, insects and other prey slip from the mouth of the pitcher into a pool of liquid and are unable to escape, because of the pitcher's downward-pointing hairs and slick sides. The animals drown and are eventually digested by enzymes.

Named Nepenthes cabanae, the newfound species occurs only in Mt. Malimumu, Pantaron range, Bukidnon Province of Mindanao Island, Philippines.

"This discovery brings the number of Nepenthes species in this mountain range to eight," said Central Mindanao University researchers Noel Lagunday and Victor Amoroso.

"Mt. Pantaron is currently not a protected area, but the diversity of Nepenthes suggests concerted efforts should be made to develop a conservation strategy to preserve and protect the area."

Read the Full Article Here

13th ICPS Conference Postponed Until 2021

Currently infection to the new coronavirus is spreading on a global scale. WHO assessed this situation as a pandemic. The US declared a state of emergency yesterday. Japan is now ready to declare the same, as the pertinent law was approved by the Diet.

We cannot expect change for the better. Therefore, the organizer team would like to postpone 13th ICPS Conference - Japan by 1 year. We will aim at holding the conference in May 2021. However, we may reconsider it depending on the situation. As for refund of the paid registration fees, please refer to the conference home page.

-- Koji Kondo for the organizer team.

ICPS World Conferences

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