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Westermeier, Anna Sofia; Fleischmann, Andreas; Müller, Kai; Schäferhoff, Bastian; Rubach, Carmen; Speck, Thomas; Poppinga, Simon (2017): Trap diversity and character evolution in carnivorous bladderworts (Utricularia, Lentibulariaceae). In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, 12052
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Bladderworts (Utricularia, Lentibulariaceae, Lamiales) constitute the largest genus of carnivorous plants but only aquatic species (about one fifth of the genus) have so far been thoroughly studied as to their suction trap functioning. In this study, we comparatively investigated trap biomechanics in 19 Utricularia species to examine correlations between life-forms, trapping mechanisms, and functional-morphological traits. Our investigations show the existence of two functional trap principles (passive trap in U. multifida vs. active suction traps), and - in active suction traps - three main trapdoor movement types (with several subtypes). The trapdoor movement types and their corresponding functional-morphological features most presumably represent adaptations to the respective habitat. We furthermore give insights into fluid dynamics during suction in three representatives of the main types of trapdoor movement. The results on functional morphology and trapdoor movement were mapped onto a new phylogenetic reconstruction of the genus, derived from the rapidly evolving chloroplast regions trnK, rps16 and trnQ-rps16 and a sampling of 105 Utricularia species in total. We discuss potential scenarios of trap character evolution and species radiation, highlighting possible key innovations that enable such a unique carnivorous lifestyle in different habitats.