The protein composition of the digestive fluid from the venus flytrap sheds light on prey digestion mechanisms

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2012 Nov;11(11):1306-19. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M112.021006. Epub 2012 Aug 12.


The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is one of the most well-known carnivorous plants because of its unique ability to capture small animals, usually insects or spiders, through a unique snap-trapping mechanism. The animals are subsequently killed and digested so that the plants can assimilate nutrients, as they grow in mineral-deficient soils. We deep sequenced the cDNA from Dionaea traps to obtain transcript libraries, which were used in the mass spectrometry-based identification of the proteins secreted during digestion. The identified proteins consisted of peroxidases, nucleases, phosphatases, phospholipases, a glucanase, chitinases, and proteolytic enzymes, including four cysteine proteases, two aspartic proteases, and a serine carboxypeptidase. The majority of the most abundant proteins were categorized as pathogenesis-related proteins, suggesting that the plant's digestive system evolved from defense-related processes. This in-depth characterization of a highly specialized secreted fluid from a carnivorous plant provides new information about the plant's prey digestion mechanism and the evolutionary processes driving its defense pathways and nutrient acquisition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Droseraceae / enzymology
  • Droseraceae / genetics
  • Droseraceae / metabolism*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Insecta / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Exudates / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteolysis
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Transcriptome


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Plant Exudates
  • Plant Proteins