Venus flytrap biomechanics: forces in the Dionaea muscipula trap.


Biomechanics of morphing structures in the Venus flytrap has attracted the attention of scientists during the last 140 years. The trap closes in a tenth of a second if a prey touches a trigger hair twice. The driving force of the closing process is most likely due to the elastic curvature energy stored and locked in the leaves, which is caused by a pressure differential between the upper and lower layers of the leaf. The trap strikes, holds and compresses the prey. We have developed new methods for measuring all these forces involved in the hunting cycle. We made precise calibration of the piezoelectric sensor and performed direct measurements of the average impact force of the trap closing using a high speed video camera for the determination of time constants. The new equation for the average impact force was derived. The impact average force between rims of two lobes in the Venus flytrap was found equal to 149 mN and the corresponding pressure between the rims was about 41 kPa. Direct measurements of the constriction force in the trap of Dionaea muscipula was performed during gelatin digestion. This force increases in the process of digestion from zero to 450 mN with maximal constriction pressure created by the lobes reaching to 9 kPa. The insects and different small prey have little chance to escape after the snap of the trap. The prey would need to overpower the "escaping" force which is very strong and can reach up to 4N.


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  • Authors

    Volkov AG

    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL 35896, USA. agvolkov@yahoo.com

    Harris SL

    Vilfranc CL

    Murphy VA

    Wooten JD

    Paulicin H

    Volkova MI

    Markin VS


    Journal of plant physiology 170:1 2013 Jan 1 pg 25-32


    Biomechanical Phenomena
    Electric Stimulation
    Electrophysiological Processes
    Mechanotransduction, Cellular
    Models, Biological
    Plant Leaves
    Time Factors
    Video Recording

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.



    PubMed ID