An organism is any living individual animal, plant, or single-celled life form that has independent body parts, organs, and organelles that help it survive and adapt to an environment. As such, the chosen organism to be discussed is the Venus flytrap plant. The Venus flytrap scientifically referred to as the Dionaea muscipula is a carnivorous flowering plant that obtains its nutrients from the air as any other plants but feeds on insects such as flies to gain valuable nutrients absent in the poor soils they grow in. In this accord, this paper is aimed at discussing the Venus flytrap with regards to its environment, physiological adaptations, its close relatives, functions of its body organs, the efficiency of its organs, and survival in new habitats or environments.
The Venus flytrap, like any other normal plant, depends on air and sunlight for survival. However, it grows in acidic and moist soils which are poor in nutrients. For it to thrive, the plant requires wet roots and high humidity, meaning, they grow in areas with wet conditions (Wildlife Federation, 2017). Regarding temperature, the plant does not flourish in hot or very cold areas. In the wild during the winter conditions, the plants go into dormancy to protect themselves from wilting. As such, the Venus flytrap flourishes in rain forests growing under the canopy as undergrowth. Geographically, the plant does well in North and South Carolina but can also do well as potted plants at home if well taken care of (Luken, 2005). The Venus flytrap feeds on insects and bugs from their small habitats to gain vital nutrients that are unavailable in the poor soils they grow in forming a unique miniature ecosystem. According to Gibson and Waller (2009), the closest relative of the Dionaea is the Aldrovanda. However, further studies have shown that it is also closely related to the Drosera as illustrated in the figure below.
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Figure 1: A phylogenetic tree showing the relationship between the Dionaea, Aldrovanda, and the Drosera species.
The Venus flytrap boasts of major instrumental structures and organs including the leaves, cilia, roots, and the flowers. The leaves act as solar panels to trap the sunlight. The inside of the leaves is brightly colored to attract insects and bugs. The leaves are also equipped with short but stiff hairs which when brushed or landed upon by insects trigger the leaves to snap shut around the insect. The other fundamental organ is the Cilia which comes in handy after the trap snaps around the insect. The cilia’s function is to tighten the grip of the trap thanks to their finger-like structure. The Venus flytrap is a flowering plant, and as such, the flowers not only attract insects but also help in reproduction. The roots assist in holding the plant to the ground as well as carrying out the absorption of water. According to Gibson and Waller (2009), the flytrap or the Dionaea, in general, evolved from a sundew-like ancestor. From the simple sticky traps, the flytraps developed larger leaves, rapid closure, and bigger rosette. The evolution began with modified reactions to stimuli by prey or insects via directional movement of leaves to bolster adhesion and engulfing of prey. In addition, the big leaves evolved to trap enough sunlight for photosynthesis. A major evolution was in the accelerated speed of detecting prey and relaying information to snap the leaves. The flytrap developed large leaves creating enough room for insects and the sticky tentacles from its ancestor developed into digestive glands that produce digestive juices for digestion. All these adaptations help the plant in acquiring necessary nutrients absent in the poor soils they grow in.
Retrieved from http://botany.org/bsa/misc/carn.html
Essentially, if the Venus flytrap were to be transplanted in a different environment such as that with rich fertile soils with low humidity, cold or extremely hot conditions, the plant’s organ systems would not efficiently function. In cold environments with winter-like conditions, the flytrap becomes dormant and shuts down rendering its organs functionless potentially leading to its death. In extremely hot areas, the plant will not survive because it flourishes in moist and wet conditions. Also, if they were transplanted in environments rich in soil nutrients and few insects, the plant will not survive because the roots of the flytrap are not adapted to absorbing nitrates from the soil. In this accord, it is worth noting that the flytrap only gains its crucial nutrients from the insects it traps and digests. As such, a drastic change in the environment means doom for the plant and most of its organ systems will be inefficient since the plant cannot adapt to the environment. It must, however, be noted that adaptation and evolution take years to perfect.
The Venus flytrap is a carnivorous plant that grows in nutrient-poor soils and depends on insects for nourishment. As evidenced by the paper, fundamental evolutionary features have led to the specific adaptation of the plant to its habitat. The plant is closely related to the Drosera and Aldrovanda and can only survive in boggy environments with poor soils, and high humidity. A slight change in environment could lead to their death owing to the organ system inefficiency. As Charles Darwin pointed out, the Venus flytrap is a unique plant and being what it is, conservation and protection from poachers are fundamental. Due to their uniqueness and small habitats, the plants have been overharvested and poached for one reason or the other thereby increasing their risk of extinction. Thus, the fly trap as a carnivorous plant is an important part of the ecosystem, and its survival requires gallant efforts across the board.
Figure 1: A phylogenetic tree showing the relationship between the Dionaea, Aldrovanda, and the Drosera species. Retrieved from: http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2007/knoblauc_kris/heritage.htm
Gibson, T.C., & Waller, D.M. (2009). Evolving Darwin’s ‘most wonderful’ Plant: Ecological Steps to a Snap-trap. New Phytologist , 183: 575–587. Web. Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.02935.x/pdf
Luken, J.O. (2005). Habitats of Dionaea muscipula (Venus’ Fly Trap), Droseraceae, Associated with Carolina Bays. Southeastern Naturalist, 4(4):573–584 . Web. Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/71f9/c85545e17b9fdb9f11f97d063168eec5baac.pdf
National Wildlife Federation. (2017). Venus Flytrap. National Wildlife Federation. Web. Retrieved from: https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Plants/Venus-Flytrap.aspx
Venus Flytrap image. Retrieved from http://botany.org/bsa/misc/carn.html