Saturday, May 08, 2010

Natural compounds in carnivorous plants could fight human fungal infections

The vast array of plants in nature includes carnivorous plants that kill to survive. How can a plant zap a flying or crawling insect? By using a highly evolved group of compounds and secondary metabolites to trap and absorb prey. Now Tel Aviv University researchers say they've found a way these natural plant compounds could benefit human health by fighting serious fungal infections.

The Venus fly trap is probably the best known example of a carnivorous plant. Native to the tropics, these plants lure unsuspecting beetles, ants, flies and other creatures into a cavity filled with liquid that botanists call a "pitcher". The instant insects fall into this trap, enzymes are activated that dissolve the bugs and provide the plant with needed nutrients, such as carbon and nitrogen, which can be difficult to extract from soil. Read more...

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