Coprophagous features in carnivorous Nepenthes plants: A task for ureases

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Yilamujiang, A.; Zhu, A.; Ligabue-Braun, R.; Bartram, S.; Witte, C.-P. et al.: Coprophagous features in carnivorous Nepenthes plants: A task for ureases. In: Scientific Reports 7 (2017), Nr. 1, 11647. DOI:

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Most terrestrial carnivorous plants are specialized on insect prey digestion to obtain additional nutrients. Few species of the genus Nepenthes developed mutualistic relationships with mammals for nitrogen supplementation. Whether dietary changes require certain enzymatic composition to utilize new sources of nutrients has rarely been tested. Here, we investigated the role of urease for Nepenthes hemsleyana that gains nitrogen from the bat Kerivoula hardwickii while it roosts inside the pitchers. We hypothesized that N. hemsleyana is able to use urea from the bats' excrements. In fact, we demonstrate that 15N-enriched urea provided to Nepenthes pitchers is metabolized and its nitrogen is distributed within the plant. As ureases are necessary to degrade urea, these hydrolytic enzymes should be involved. We proved the presence and enzymatic activity of a urease for Nepenthes plant tissues. The corresponding urease cDNA from N. hemsleyana was isolated and functionally expressed. A comprehensive phylogenetic analysis for eukaryotic ureases, including Nepenthes and five other carnivorous plants' taxa, identified them as canonical ureases and reflects the plant phylogeny. Hence, this study reveals ureases as an emblematic example for an efficient, low-cost but high adaptive plasticity in plants while developing a further specialized lifestyle from carnivory to coprophagy.
License of this version: CC BY 4.0 Unported
Document Type: article
Publishing status: publishedVersion
Issue Date: 2017
Appears in Collections:Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät

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pos. country downloads
total perc.
1 image of flag of Germany Germany 77 25.25%
2 image of flag of No geo information available No geo information available 55 18.03%
3 image of flag of United States United States 51 16.72%
4 image of flag of Ukraine Ukraine 24 7.87%
5 image of flag of Russian Federation Russian Federation 17 5.57%
6 image of flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom 9 2.95%
7 image of flag of France France 8 2.62%
8 image of flag of China China 7 2.30%
9 image of flag of Canada Canada 6 1.97%
10 image of flag of Tunisia Tunisia 4 1.31%
    other countries 47 15.41%

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