The digestion of prey by carnivorous plants is determined in part by suites of enzymes that are associated with morphologically and anatomically diverse trapping mechanisms. Chitinases represent a group of enzymes known to be integral to effective plant carnivory. In non-carnivorous plants, chitinases commonly act as pathogenesis-related proteins, which are either induced in response to insect herbivory and fungal elicitors, or constitutively expressed in tissues vulnerable to attack. In the Caryophyllales carnivorous plant lineage, multiple classes of chitinases are likely involved in both pathogenic response and digestion of prey items. We review what is currently known about trap morphologies, provide an examination of the diversity, roles, and evolution of chitinases, and examine how herbivore and pathogen defense mechanisms may have been coopted for plant carnivory in the Caryophyllales.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science