, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 227–233 | Cite as

Root nutrient uptake enhances photosynthetic assimilation in prey-deprived carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes talangensis

  • A. PavlovičEmail author
  • L. Singerová
  • V. Demko
  • J. Šantrůček
  • J. Hudák
Original Papers


Carnivorous plants grow in nutrient-poor habitats and obtain substantial amount of nitrogen from prey. Specialization toward carnivory may decrease the ability to utilize soil-derived sources of nutrients in some species. However, no such information exists for pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes, nor the effect of nutrient uptake via the roots on photosynthesis in carnivorous plants is known. The principal aim of present study was to investigate, whether improved soil nutrient status increases photosynthetic efficiency in prey-deprived pitcher plant Nepenthes talangensis. Gas exchange and chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence were measured simultaneously and were correlated with Chl and nitrogen concentration as well as with stable carbon isotope abundance (δ13C) in control and fertilized N. talangensis plants. Net photosynthetic rate (P N) and maximum- (Fv/Fm) and effective quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII) were greater in the plants supplied with nutrients. Biomass, leaf nitrogen, and Chl (a+b) also increased in fertilized plants. In contrast, δ13C did not differ significantly between treatments indicating that intercellular concentration of CO2 did not change. We can conclude that increased root nutrient uptake enhanced photosynthetic efficiency in prey-deprived N. talangensis plants. Thus, the roots of Nepenthes plants are functional and can obtain a substantial amount of nitrogen from the soil.

Additional keywords

carnivorous plant chlorophyll fluorescence gas exchange Nepenthes talangensis nitrogen supply pitcher plant rate of photosynthesis 



ambient CO2 concentration


intercellular CO2 concentration




minimal fluorescence


F0 of the light-adapted state


maximal quantum yield of PSII


stomatal conductance


non-photochemical quenching


photosynthetic active radiation


net photosynthetic rate


maximum net photosynthetic rate at saturation irradiance


photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency


photosystem II


photochemical quenching coefficient


respiration rate


water use efficiency


carbon stable isotope abundance


effective quantum yield of PSII


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This work was supported by grant VEGA 1/0040/09. We thank Zelené údolÍ (Czech Republic) for providing the N. talangensis plants for our experiments; Martina Vašková, Daniel Hisem, and JiřÍ Květoň for IRMS analyses.


  1. Adamec, L.: Mineral nutrition of carnivorous plants — A review. — Bot. Rev. 63: 273–299, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adlassnig, W., Peroutka, M., Lambers, H., Lichtscheidl, I.K.: The roots of carnivorous plants. — Plant Soil 274: 127–140, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aldenius, J., Carlsson, B., Karlsson, S.: Effects of insect trapping on growth and nutrient content of Pinguicula vulgaris L. in relation to the nutrient content of the substrate. — New Phytol. 93: 53–59, 1983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Björkman, O., Demmig, B.: Photon yield of O2 evolution and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics at 77 K among vascular plants of diverse origins. — Planta 170: 489–504, 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bott, T., Gretchen, A.M., Young, E.B.: Nutrient limitation and morphological plasticity of the carnivorous pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea in contrasting wetland environments. — New Phytol. 180: 631–641, 2008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Brewer, J.S.: Why don’t carnivorous pitcher plant’s compete with non-carnivorous plants for nutrients? — Ecology 84: 451–462, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke, C., Moran, J.: Nepenthes of Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia. — Natural History Publications, Kota Kinabalu 2001.Google Scholar
  8. Darwin, C.R.: Insectivorous Plants — John Murray, London 1875.Google Scholar
  9. Darwin, F.: Experiments on the nutritions of Drosera rotundifolia. — J. Linn. Soc. Bot. (London) 17: 17–23, 1878.Google Scholar
  10. Eleuterius, L.N., Jones, S.B.: A floristic and ecological study of pitcher plant bog in south Mississippi. — Rhodora 71: 29–34, 1969.Google Scholar
  11. Ellison, A.M.: Nutrient limitation and stoichiometry of carnivorous plants. — Plant Biol. 8: 740–747, 2006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Ellison, A.M., Gotelli, N.J.: Nitrogen availability alters the expression of carnivory in the northern pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea. — Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 99: 4409–4412, 2002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Farnsworth, E.J., Ellison A.M.: Prey availability directly affects physiology, growth, nutrient allocation and scaling relationships among leaf traits in 10 carnivorous plant species. — J. Ecol. 96: 213–221, 2008.Google Scholar
  14. Farquhar, G.D., Ehleringer, J.R., Hubick, K.T.: Carbon isotope discrimination and photosynthesis. — Ann. Rev. Plant Physiol. Plant Mol. Biol. 40: 503–537, 1989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Givnish, T.J., Burkhardt, E.L., Happel, R.E., Weintraub, J.D.: Carnivory in the bromeliad Brocchinia reducta with a cost/benefit model for the general restriction of carnivorous plants to sunny, moist, nutrient-poor habitats. — Am. Natur. 124: 479–497, 1984.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Huang, Z.-A., Jiang, D.-A., Yang, Y., Sun, J.-W., Jin, S.-H.: Effect of nitrogen deficiency on gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence and antioxidant enzymes in leaves of rice plants. — Photosynthetica 42: 357–364, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Juniper B.E., Robins R.J., Joel D.M.: The Carnivorous Plants. — Academic Press, London 1989.Google Scholar
  18. Karlsson, P.S., Pate, J.S.: Contrasting effects of supplementary feeding of insects or mineral nutrients on the growth and nitrogen and phosphorous economy of pygmy species of Drosera. — Oecologia 92: 8–13, 1992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lichtenthaler, H.K.: Chlorophylls and carotenoids: Pigments of photosynthetic biomembranes. — Met. Enzymol. 148: 350–382, 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Maxwell, K., Johnson, G.N.: Chlorophyll fluorescence — a practical guide. — J. Exp. Bot. 51: 659–668, 2000.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Moran, J.A., Merbach, M.A., Livingstone, N.J., Clarke, C.M., Booth, W.E.: Termite prey specialization in the pitcher plant Nepenthes albomarginata—Evidence from stable isotope analysis. — Ann. Bot. 88: 307–311, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Moran, J.A., Moran, A.J.: Foliar reflectance and vector analysis reveal nutrient stress in prey-deprived pitcher (Nepenthes rafflesiana). — Int. J. Plant Sci. 159: 996–1001, 1998.Google Scholar
  23. Müller, P., Li, X.P., Niyogi, K.K.: Non-photochemical quenching: A response to excess light energy. — Plant Physiol. 125: 1558–1566, 2001.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Nerz, J., Wistuba, A.: Five new taxa of Nepenthes (Nepenthaceae) from north and west Sumatra. — Carniv. Plant Newslett. 23: 101–114, 1994.Google Scholar
  25. Osunkoya, O.O., Daud, S.D., Di-Giusto, B., Wimmer, F.L., Holige, T.M.: Construction costs and physico-chemical properties of the assimilatory organs of Nepenthes species in northern Borneo. — Ann. Bot. 99: 895–906, 2007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Pavlovič, A., Singerová, L., Demko, V., Hudák, J.: Feeding enhances photosynthetic efficiency in the carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes talangensis. — Ann. Bot. 104: 307–314, 2009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Schulze, W., Schulze, E.D., Pate, J.S., Gillinson, A.N.: The nitrogen supply from soils and insects during growth of the pitcher plants Nepenthes mirabilis, Cephalotus follicularis and Darlingtonia californica. — Oecologia 112: 464–471, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stewart, C.N., Nilsen, E.T.: Drosera rotundifolia growth and nutrition in a natural population with special reference to the significance of insectivory. — Can. J. Bot. 70: 1409–1416, 1992.Google Scholar
  29. Svensson, B.M.: Competition between Sphagnum fuscum and Drosera rotundifolia: A case of eco-system engineering. — Oikos 74: 205–212. 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wong, S.C., Cowan, I.R., Farquhar, G.D.: Leaf conductance in relation to rate of CO2 assimilation. 1. Influence of nitrogen nutrition, phosphorus-nutrition, photon flux-density, and ambient partial pressure of CO2 during ontogeny. — Plant Physiol. 78: 821–825, 1985.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Wright, I.J., Reich, P.B., Westoby, M., Ackerly, D.D., Baruch, Z., Bongers, F., Cavender-Bares, J., Chapin, T., Cornelissen, J.H.C., Diemer, M., Flexas, J., Garnier, E., Groom, P.K., Gulias, J., Hikosaka, K., Lamont, B.B., Lee, T., Lee, W., Lusk, C., Midgley, J.J., Navas, M.L., Niinemets, Ü., Oleksyn, J., Osada, N., Poorter, H., Poot, P., Prior L., Pyankov, V.I., Roumet, C., Thomas, S.C, Tjoelker, M.G., Veneklaas, E.J., Villar, R: The worldwide leaf economic spectrum. — Nature 428: 821–827, 2004.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Pavlovič
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Singerová
    • 1
  • V. Demko
    • 1
  • J. Šantrůček
    • 2
  • J. Hudák
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Physiology, Faculty of Natural SciencesComenius University in BratislavaBratislavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Plant Physiology, Faculty of BiologyThe University of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations