New research sheds light on how carnivorous plants like Venus fly trap developed taste for meat. A study from University of Würzburg in Germany suggests that subtle changes in genetics of plants led to some becoming carnivorous. These changes led to development of some of nature's most ingenious species. Carnivorous plants adapted novel and devious ways to entice and snare insects. Venus fly trap uses clam-like leaves that snap shut when insect crawls between them. The pitcher plant is shaped like vase - insects go inside and then cannot crawl up slippery insides. sundew plant has long sticky leaves, which roll up after insects get stuck on them.
Researchers in variety of fields collaborated in study. They included computational evolutionary biologist Jörg Schultz and plant biologist Rainer Hedrich. They sequenced and compared genomes of carnivorous plants to non-carnivorous plants. They discovered that meat-eating plants developed from same common ancestor about 60 million years ago. Dr Schultz said: "We were able to trace origin of carnivorous genes back to duplication event that occurred many millions of years ago in genome of the last common ancestor of carnivorous species." Dr Rainer added: " function of these genes is related to ability to sense and digest animals and to utilise their nutrients."