Stretch-activated ion channels identified in the touch-sensitive structures of carnivorous Droseraceae plants

Elife. 2021 Mar 16;10:e64250. doi: 10.7554/eLife.64250.


In response to touch, some carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap have evolved spectacular movements to capture animals for nutrient acquisition. However, the molecules that confer this sensitivity remain unknown. We used comparative transcriptomics to show that expression of three genes encoding homologs of the MscS-Like (MSL) and OSCA/TMEM63 family of mechanosensitive ion channels are localized to touch-sensitive trigger hairs of Venus flytrap. We focus here on the candidate with the most enriched expression in trigger hairs, the MSL homolog FLYCATCHER1 (FLYC1). We show that FLYC1 transcripts are localized to mechanosensory cells within the trigger hair, transfecting FLYC1 induces chloride-permeable stretch-activated currents in naïve cells, and transcripts coding for FLYC1 homologs are expressed in touch-sensing cells of Cape sundew, a related carnivorous plant of the Droseraceae family. Our data suggest that the mechanism of prey recognition in carnivorous Droseraceae evolved by co-opting ancestral mechanosensitive ion channels to sense touch.

Keywords: Dionaea muscipula; Drosera capensis; cell biology; ion channels; plant biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / genetics
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Carnivorous Plant / genetics*
  • Carnivorous Plant / metabolism
  • Droseraceae / genetics*
  • Droseraceae / metabolism
  • Genes, Plant
  • Ion Channels / genetics*
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Ion Transport / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Touch*
  • Transcriptome


  • Calcium Channels
  • Ion Channels
  • Plant Proteins

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE131340