Mosquito plants are just like plants, but more nutritious
A scientist says he’s made the discovery that the only way to get a plant to produce nutritious food is to let it grow it.
The discovery was made after researchers noticed that some of the mosquito plant life cycle plants, such as the jacob’s ladders, produce a sticky sticky substance that sticks to their leaves when they’re eaten.
The sticky substance acts like a kind of glue, holding the plant up.
“It’s the most nutritious plant we’ve found in a long time, which is a bit ironic because they’re the insects that are eating us,” Dr Robert Skelton said.
Dr Skelon was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New South Wales who was working on the issue of how to grow food in the tropics.
When he started to look at the insects in question, he noticed something was off.
“They didn’t seem to have any leaves at all.
They were just completely flat.
So I thought, why aren’t they growing?”
Dr Szelton said the insects’ leaves were covered in sticky material.
“What they’re really trying to do is hold the plant in place,” he said.
“And that’s a very sticky material.”
The sticky material was actually produced by the insects themselves, he said, adding that he thought it could have been caused by some other natural process.
But he and his colleagues weren’t expecting it to be so sticky.
Instead, the sticky substance was produced by a microbial process.
“When the microbes are doing this, they’re producing a lot of proteins,” he explained.
“The proteins are actually being produced by an enzyme that is produced by bacteria, which are also making sticky stuff.”
It was a long way from the sticky plants he’d seen in the past.
“We had this idea that they were going to grow these plants in a way that would make them stick to the soil.
And when they were growing, they were sticking to the plant,” he recalled.
“That was the whole point of it.”
He and his team then discovered that the sticky materials could also be produced by photosynthesis, a process that involves the production of sugars.
Dr Jules Skelson, from the University at Buffalo, says the sticky stuff he and colleagues found on mosquito plants is actually from photosynthesis.
Photo: Rohan Thomson “We actually had some of these plants growing and we found that they had these little sugars on them,” he added.
The sugars would be produced when the insect eats a leaf, so the sticky material would stick to that leaf.
“These sugars were produced by our microbe,” he told ABC News.
“So this was a new species.”
Dr Selton said it was possible that the insect could use this to produce more sticky plants to eat.
“I think it could be useful,” he acknowledged.
“But I would imagine that these insects could just pick up the sugar and throw it away.”
Dr Jule Skeluson, from The University at Albany, is one of several researchers who have investigated the sticky properties of insects.
Photo by Rohan Thomond for ABC News The sticky nature of the plant life cycles may be due to the fact that they are in symbiosis with insects, and therefore have a common ancestor.
Dr Joel Oehlert, a professor of biology at the Florida Institute of Technology, said the plants were part of a symbiotic relationship.
“All insects have this common ancestor that we call a symbiont,” he noted.
“Some of the symbionts that we have today are just plant species.
So it’s a kind to have a plant species as part of this symbiotic arrangement.”
He said the insect’s ability to produce sticky material is important for the plant’s survival.
“In terms of food production, it’s important to know what the plant is going to be eating so you can do that,” he remarked.
Dr Oehlfert said the sticky substances were produced in the same way plants produce sugars, and could help the plant avoid predators.
“If you can get this material to stick to something, that can make the plant better at hiding in its environment,” he argued.
“Or at least prevent predators from getting inside.”
Dr Joel Skelmans discovery may have implications for the future of crop development.
The insect plant lifecycle has evolved to help the insect plant survive in the harsh conditions of the tropic, he added, because it allows the plant to avoid predators and survive.
“A lot of the time in the tropical tropics, the plants have no predators,” he pointed out.
“Their predators are predators of the same species that they eat.”