Mutational Analysis of Mechanosensitive Ion Channels in the Carnivorous Venus Flytrap Plant
Published:26 Jul.2023    Source:Current Biology
How the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) evolved the remarkable ability to sense, capture, and digest animal prey for nutrients has long puzzled the scientific community. Recent genome and transcriptome sequencing studies have provided clues to the genes thought to play a role in these tasks. However, proving a causal link between these and any aspect of the plants hunting behavior has been challenging due to the genetic intractability of this non-model organism.
Here, we use CRISPR-Cas9 methods to generate targeted modifications in the Venus flytrap genome. The plant detects prey using touch-sensitive trigger hairs located on its bilobed leaves.6 Upon bending, these hairs convert mechanical touch signals into changes in the membrane potential of sensory cells, leading to rapid closure of the leaf lobes to ensnare the animal. Here, we generate mutations in trigger-hair-expressed MscS-like (MSL)-family mechanosensitive ion channel genes FLYCATCHER1 (FLYC1) and FLYCATCHER2 (FLYC2) and find that double-mutant plants have a reduced leaf-closing response to mechanical ultrasound stimulation.
While we cannot exclude off-target effects of the CRISPR-Cas9 system, our genetic analysis is consistent with these and other functionally redundant mechanosensitive ion channels acting together to generate the sensory system necessary for prey detection.