Journal of Bionic Engineering

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 34–41 | Cite as

The prey capture mechanism of micro structure on the Sarracenia Judith Hindle inner surface

  • Yang Gan
  • Huawei Chen
  • Tong Ran
  • Pengfei Zhang
  • Deyuan Zhang


Low friction surface has attracted considerable attention due to its potential application in various fields. As a typical carnivorous plant, Sarracenia Judith Hindle possesses unique slippery surface to capture prey especially in wet environment. In order to make clear the low friction mechanism, structural characterization was carried out and unique inclined micro-thorn structure was found on the inner wall surface. Micro-droplets harvest on the surface of the micro-thorn was discovered via the observation in wet environment. Friction force measurement was conducted by sliding the ants’ footpad on the inner surface and polymer replica surfaces, which demonstrated that the friction force decreases on those surfaces in wet environment or inward direction. Further analysis manifested that the slippery inner surface grown with hierarchical micro-thorn structure leads to the friction decrease, and that is the fundamental mechanism for prey capture and retention in the pitcher of carnivorous plant Sarracenia Judith Hindle.


prey capture hierarchical microstructure Sarracenia low friction surface anisotropic structure 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 51725501).


  1. [1]
    Chen H W, Zhang X, Che D, Zhang D Y, Li X, Li Y Y. Synthetic effect of vivid shark skin and polymer additive on drag reduction reinforcement. Advances in Mechanical Engineering, 2014, 6, 425701–425701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. [2]
    Ren L Q, Tong J, Zhang S J, Chen B C. Reducing sliding resistance of soil against bulldozing plates by unsmoothed bionics surfaces. Journal of Terramechanics, 1995, 32, 303–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [3]
    Li J Q, Sun J R, Ren L Q, Chen B C. Sliding resistance of plates with bionic bumpy surface against soil. Journal of Bionic Engineering, 2004, 1, 207–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [4]
    Barthlott W, Neinhuis C. Purity of the sacred lotus, or escape from contamination in biological surfaces. Planta, 1997, 202, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    Neinhuis C, Barthlott W. Characterization and distribution of water-repellent, self-cleaning plant surfaces. Annals of Botany, 1997, 79, 667–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. [6]
    Scholz I, Barnes W J P, Smith J M, Baumgartner W. Ultrastructure and physical properties of an adhesive surface, the toe pad epithelium of the tree frog, Litoria caerulea White. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2009, 212, 155–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. [7]
    Chen H W, Zhang L W, Zhang D Y, Zhang P F, Han Z W. Bioinspired surface for surgical graspers based on the strong wet friction of tree frog toe pads. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2015, 7, 13987–13995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. [8]
    Ju J, Bai H, Zheng Y M, Zhao T Y, Fang Y C, Jiang L. A multi-structural and multi-functional integrated fog collection system in cactus. Nature Communications, 2012, 3, 1247–1252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. [9]
    Ju J, Yao X, Yang S, Wang L, Sun R Z, He Y X, Jiang L. Cactus stem inspired cone-arrayed surfaces for efficient fog collection. Advanced Functional Materials, 2014, 24, 6933–6938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. [10]
    Bauer U, Scharmann M, Skepper J N, Federle W. ‘Insect aquaplaning’ on a superhydrophilic hairy surface: How Heliamphora nutans Benth. pitcher plants capture prey. Proceedings Biological Sciences, 2012, 280, 2569–2574.Google Scholar
  11. [11]
    Chen H W, Zhang P F, Zhang L W, Liu H L, Jiang Y Zhang D Y, Han Z W, Jiang L. Continuous directional water transport on the peristome surface of Nepenthes alata. Nature, 2016, 532, 85–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [12]
    Bohn H F, Federle W. Insect aquaplaning: Nepenthes pitcher plants capture prey with the peristome, a fully wettable water- lubricated anisotropic surface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2004, 101, 38–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Furches M S, Small R L, Furches A. Hybridization leads to interspecific gene flow in Sarracenia (Sarraceniaceae). American Journal of Botany, 2013, 100, 85–91.Google Scholar
  14. [14]
    Ellison A M, Buckley H L, Miller T E, Gotelli N J. Morphological variation in Sarracenia purpurea (Sarraceniaceae): Geographic, environmental, and taxonomic correlates. American Journal of Botany, 2004, 91, 1930–1934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. [15]
    Oswald W W, Doughty E D, Ne’eman G, Ne’eman R Ellison A M. Pollen morphology and its relationship to taxonomy of the genus Sarracenia (Sarraceniaceae). Rhodora, 2011, 113, 235–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. [16]
    Wakefield A E, Gotelli N J, Wittman S E, Ellison A M. Prey addition alters nutrient stoichiometry of the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea. Ecology, 2005, 86, 1737–1743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. [17]
    Green M L, Horner J D. The relationship between prey capture and characteristics of the carnivorous pitcher plant, Sarracenia alata wood. American Midland Naturalist, 2009, 158, 424–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. [18]
    Bhattarai G P, Horner J D. The importance of pitcher size in prey capture in the carnivorous plant, Sarracenia alata wood (Sarraceniaceae). American Midland Naturalist, 2016, 161, 264–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. [19]
    Heard S B. Capture rates of invertebrate prey by the pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea L. American Midland Naturalist, 1998, 139, 79–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. [20]
    Bhattarai G P, Horner J D. Deciphering the importance of pitcher size in prey capture in the carnivorous plant, Sarracenia alata wood. Meeting of Association of Southeastern Biologists, 2007, 264–272.Google Scholar
  21. [21]
    Ellison A M, Gotelli N J. Energetics and the evolution of carnivorous plants—Darwin’s’ most wonderful plants in the world’. Journal of Experimental Botany, 2009, 60, 19–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. [22]
    Stephens J D, Godwin R L, Folkerts D R. Distinctions in pitcher morphology and prey capture of the Okefenokee variety within the carnivorous plant species Sarracenia minor. Southeastern Naturalist, 2015, 14, 254–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. [23]
    Arber A. On the morphology of the pitcher-leaves in Heliamphora, Sarracenia, Darlingtonia, Cephalotus, and Nepenthes. Annals of Botany, 1941, 5, 563–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. [24]
    Newell S J, Nastase A J. Efficiency of insect capture by Sarracenia purpurea (Sarraceniaceae), the northern pitcher plant. American Journal of Botany, 1998, 85, 88–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. [25]
    Horner J D, Steele J C, Underwood C A, Lingamfelter D. Age-related changes in characteristics and prey capture of seasonal cohorts of Sarracenia alata pitchers. American Midland Naturalist, 2012, 167, 13–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. [26]
    Evans R E, Macroberts B R, Gibson T C, Macroberts M H. Mass capture of insects by the pitcher plant Sarracenia alata (Sarraceniaceae) in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas. Texas Journal of Science, 2002, 54, 339–346.Google Scholar
  27. [27]
    Du W, Wu Y. Comparison of hypsometry and goniometry in contact angle measurement. Journal of Textile Research, 2007, 28, 29–30.Google Scholar
  28. [28]
    Zhang P F, Chen H W, Zhang D Y. Investigation of the anisotropic morphology-induced effects of the slippery zone in pitchers of Nepenthes alata. Journal of Bionic Engineering, 2015, 12, 79–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. [29]
    Hamm C E, Merkel R, Springer O, Jurkojc P, Maier C, Prechtel K, Smetacek V. Architecture and material properties of diatom shells provide effective mechanical protection. Nature, 2003, 421, 841–843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. [30]
    Pan J F, Cai J, Zhang D Y, Wang Y, Jiang Y G. Micro- arraying of nanostructured diatom microshells on glass substrate using ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer and photolithography technology for fluorescence spectroscopy application. Physica E Low-Dimensional Systems and Nanostructures, 2012, 44, 1585–1591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Jilin University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yang Gan
    • 1
  • Huawei Chen
    • 1
  • Tong Ran
    • 1
  • Pengfei Zhang
    • 1
  • Deyuan Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Mechanical Engineering and AutomationBeihang UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations