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Glucan-rich diet is digested and taken up by the carnivorous sundew (Drosera rotundifolia L.): implication for a novel role of plant β-1,3-glucanases

Abstract

Carnivory in plants evolved as an adaptation strategy to nutrient-poor environments. Thanks to specialized traps, carnivorous plants can gain nutrients from various heterotrophic sources such as small insects. Digestion in traps requires a coordinated action of several hydrolytic enzymes that break down complex substances into simple absorbable nutrients. Among these, several pathogenesis-related proteins including β-1,3-glucanases have previously been identified in digestive fluid of some carnivorous species. Here we show that a single acidic endo-β-1,3-glucanase of ~50 kDa is present in the digestive fluid of the flypaper-trapped sundew (Drosera rotundifolia L.). The enzyme is inducible with a complex plant β-glucan laminarin from which it releases simple saccharides when supplied to leaves as a substrate. Moreover, thin-layer chromatography of digestive exudates showed that the simplest degradation products (especially glucose) are taken up by the leaves. These results for the first time point on involvement of β-1,3-glucanases in digestion of carnivorous plants and demonstrate the uptake of saccharide-based compounds by traps. Such a strategy could enable the plant to utilize other types of nutritional sources e.g., pollen grains, fungal spores or detritus from environment. Possible multiple roles of β-1,3-glucanases in the digestive fluid of carnivorous sundew are also discussed.

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Abbreviations

CP:

Carnivorous plant

Hpi:

Hours post induction

PR:

Pathogenesis-related

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the grant from the Slovak Grant Agency VEGA No. 2/0090/14 and MVTS COST FA1006. Financial support for P. Socha was provided by the Operational Programme Research and Development for the project: “Implementation of the research of plant genetic resources and its maintaining in the sustainable management of Slovak republic” (ITMS: 26220220097), co-financed from the resources of the European Union Fund for Regional Development. We are thankful to Dr. Ľubomír Adamec (Institute of Botany AS, Czech Republic) for helpful discussions and critical reviewing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jaroslav Michalko.

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425_2013_1925_MOESM1_ESM.tif

Suppl. Fig. S1 Thin-layer chromatography plates of sundew eluates (repetition 1) collected at different time points post induction (0–192 hip) with acetate buffer instead of a digestible substrate. For comparison, a sample of plant induced with laminarin for 192 h is given (192L). As reference saccharides (RefS), glucose (G) and maltose (M) were co-separated. (TIFF 1736 kb)

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Michalko, J., Socha, P., Mészáros, P. et al. Glucan-rich diet is digested and taken up by the carnivorous sundew (Drosera rotundifolia L.): implication for a novel role of plant β-1,3-glucanases. Planta 238, 715–725 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00425-013-1925-x

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Keywords

  • Carnivory
  • Cost of carnivory
  • Digestion
  • Droseraceae
  • Hydrolases
  • PR proteins