"The Venus flytrap attracts insects by the release of volatile organic compounds.",
J Exp Bot
, vol. 65, pp. 755–766, Feb, 2014.
<p>Does Dionaea muscipula, the Venus flytrap, use a particular mechanism to attract animal prey? This question was raised by Charles Darwin 140 years ago, but it remains unanswered. This study tested the hypothesis that Dionaea releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to allure prey insects. For this purpose, olfactory choice bioassays were performed to elucidate if Dionaea attracts Drosophila melanogaster. The VOCs emitted by the plant were further analysed by GC-MS and proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS). The bioassays documented that Drosophila was strongly attracted by the carnivorous plant. Over 60 VOCs, including terpenes, benzenoids, and aliphatics, were emitted by Dionaea, predominantly in the light. This work further tested whether attraction of animal prey is affected by the nutritional status of the plant. For this purpose, Dionaea plants were fed with insect biomass to improve plant N status. However, although such feeding altered the VOC emission pattern by reducing terpene release, the attraction of Drosophila was not affected. From these results it is concluded that Dionaea attracts insects on the basis of food smell mimicry because the scent released has strong similarity to the bouquet of fruits and plant flowers. Such a volatile blend is emitted to attract insects searching for food to visit the deadly capture organ of the Venus flytrap.</p>