Bladderwort Traps

Bladderwort carnivorous plant trap Utricularia inflata (green) with copepod crustacean prey inside and extending from the mouth
Underwater bladderwort plant traps lie in wait for small pond creatures, which are caught so the plant can gain nutrients missing in its environment. The image shows a Utricularia inflata trap with small aquatic copepod crustaceans it has caught.

Using a 3-dimensional imaging technique called Optical Projection Tomography it is possible to look inside these traps and observe internal details of captured prey. The movie shows a 3-D reconstruction of a Utricularia inflata bladderwort trap shown above. This greedy plant has captured three copepods, which will be digested to provide nutrients for the plant. The Coen lab uses Utricularia gibba as a model plant to understand how the variety of leaf forms evolved.

More information about bladderworts can be found on our Utricularia pages.