Article open access publication

Genome of the pitcher plant Cephalotus reveals genetic changes associated with carnivory

Nature Ecology & Evolution, Springer Nature, ISSN 2397-334X

Volume 1, 3, 2017

DOI:10.1038/s41559-016-0059, Dimensions: pub.1083550170, PMID: 28812732,



  1. (1) National Institute for Basic Biology, grid.419396.0
  2. (2) The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI, grid.275033.0
  3. (3) Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Colorado 80045, Aurora, USA
  4. (4) City University of Hong Kong, grid.35030.35
  5. (5) Beijing Genomics Institute, grid.21155.32
  6. (6) University of Nevada Reno, grid.266818.3
  7. (7) Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, grid.11486.3a
  8. (8) University at Buffalo, State University of New York, grid.273335.3
  9. (9) Hokkaido University, grid.39158.36
  10. (10) Miyagi University, grid.444298.7
  11. (11) Tokai University, grid.265061.6
  12. (12) University of Tokyo, grid.26999.3d
  13. (13) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  14. (14) University of Barcelona, grid.5841.8
  15. (15) Nagoya University, grid.27476.30
  16. (16) Kanazawa University, grid.9707.9
  17. (17) Tokyo Metropolitan University, grid.265074.2
  18. (18) University of Ottawa, grid.28046.38
  19. (19) Tohoku University, grid.69566.3a
  20. (20) Osaka Kyoiku University, grid.412382.e


Carnivorous plants exploit animals as a nutritional source and have inspired long-standing questions about the origin and evolution of carnivory-related traits. To investigate the molecular bases of carnivory, we sequenced the genome of the heterophyllous pitcher plant Cephalotus follicularis, in which we succeeded in regulating the developmental switch between carnivorous and non-carnivorous leaves. Transcriptome comparison of the two leaf types and gene repertoire analysis identified genetic changes associated with prey attraction, capture, digestion and nutrient absorption. Analysis of digestive fluid proteins from C. follicularis and three other carnivorous plants with independent carnivorous origins revealed repeated co-options of stress-responsive protein lineages coupled with convergent amino acid substitutions to acquire digestive physiology. These results imply constraints on the available routes to evolve plant carnivory.


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