• 1 Institute of Systems Biology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600, UKM Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia.
  • 2 Institute of Systems Biology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600, UKM Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Sci Rep, 2020 04 20;10(1):6575.
PMID: 32313042 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-63696-z


Carnivorous pitcher plants produce specialised pitcher organs containing secretory glands, which secrete acidic fluids with hydrolytic enzymes for prey digestion and nutrient absorption. The content of pitcher fluids has been the focus of many fluid protein profiling studies. These studies suggest an evolutionary convergence of a conserved group of similar enzymes in diverse families of pitcher plants. A recent study showed that endogenous proteins were replenished in the pitcher fluid, which indicates a feedback mechanism in protein secretion. This poses an interesting question on the physiological effect of plant protein loss. However, there is no study to date that describes the pitcher response to endogenous protein depletion. To address this gap of knowledge, we previously performed a comparative RNA-sequencing experiment of newly opened pitchers (D0) against pitchers after 3 days of opening (D3C) and pitchers with filtered endogenous proteins (>10 kDa) upon pitcher opening (D3L). Nepenthes ampullaria was chosen as a model study species due to their abundance and unique feeding behaviour on leaf litters. The analysis of unigenes with top 1% abundance found protein translation and stress response to be overrepresented in D0, compared to cell wall related, transport, and signalling for D3L. Differentially expressed gene (DEG) analysis identified DEGs with functional enrichment in protein regulation, secondary metabolism, intracellular trafficking, secretion, and vesicular transport. The transcriptomic landscape of the pitcher dramatically shifted towards intracellular transport and defence response at the expense of energy metabolism and photosynthesis upon endogenous protein depletion. This is supported by secretome, transportome, and transcription factor analysis with RT-qPCR validation based on independent samples. This study provides the first glimpse into the molecular responses of pitchers to protein loss with implications to future cost/benefit analysis of carnivorous pitcher plant energetics and resource allocation for adaptation in stochastic environments.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.