New Parasitic Plant

Why is it in News?

An orchid, which is a variant of a Japanese orchid, has been found in Assam which is a mycoheterotroph.

Parasitic Plants:

Parasitic plants are those plants which obtain complete or a part of their nutrition from other plants. It is broadly divided into two groups namely:

  • i.Mycoheterotrophs- It is a symbiotic relationship between certain kinds of plants and fungi, in which the plant gets all or part of its food from parasitism upon fungi rather than from photosynthesis.
  • A mycoheterotroph is the parasitic plant partner in this relationship. Mycoheterotrophy is considered a kind of cheating relationship and mycoheterotrophs are sometimes informally referred to as "mycorrhizal cheaters". An example is Orchids.
  • ii.Haustorial plants- It is those plants which obtain their nutrients from another plant via a modified roots called as “Haustorium”.
  • This plant penetrates the host plant's cell wall and siphon nutrients from the space between the cell wall and plasma membrane. An example is Dodder.

Insectivorous Plants/ Carnivorous Plants:

  • Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients (but not energy) from trapping and consuming animals or protozoan, typically insects and other arthropods.
  • Carnivorous plants generally grow in places having high light and where the soil is thin or poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen.

What is the Cause of this Evolution?

  • Most carnivorous plants live in habitats with high light, waterlogged soils, and extremely low soil nitrogen and phosphorus, producing the ecological impetus to derive nitrogen from an alternate source.
  • High light environments allowed for the trade-off between photosynthetic leaves and prey capturing traps that are inefficient in photosynthesis. To compensate for the inefficient material, the nutrients obtained through carnivore would need to increase photosynthesis by investing in more leaf mass, i.e. growing.
  • This means when there is a shortage of nutrients and enough light and water, prey capture and digestion has the greatest impact on photosynthetic gains, favoring the evolution of plant adaptations which allowed for more effective and efficient carnivory.

Source: TH