Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants

The main difference between insectivorous and symbiotic plants is that the insectivorous plants feed on insects by trapping and digesting them whereas the symbiotic plants evolve close relationships between two species that are mutually beneficial.

Insectivorous plants and symbiotic plants are two types of plants that maintain relationships with other species. Insectivorous plants are a type of partial parasitic plants while symbiotic plants maintain mutualistic, communalistic or parasitic relationships.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Insectivorous Plants
     – Definition, Characteristics, Examples
2. What are Symbiotic Plants
     – Definition, Characteristics, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Commensalism, Insectivorous Plants, Mutualism, Parasitism, Symbiotic Plants

Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants - Comparison Summary

What are Insectivorous Plants

Insectivorous plants capture and digest insects in order to supply nitrogen. Nitrogen may not be readily available in either habitat. Carnivorous plants are sometimes called insectivorous. These plants use five main trapping mechanisms. They are:

  1. Pitfall traps – They trap the prey in a rolled leaf. The bottom portion of the leaf contains a pool of digestive enzymes or bacteria that can digest the prey.
    Main Difference - Insectivorous Plants and Symbiotic Plants

    Figure 1: The Pitchers of Heliamphora chimantensis

  2. Flypaper traps – They use a sticky mucilage, which is a thick gluey substance to trap the prey.
    Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants

    Figure 2: A Sundew with a Leaf Bent around a Fly Trapped by Mucilage

  3. Snap traps – They use rapid leaf movements to capture the prey.
    Main Difference Between Insectivorous Plants and Symbiotic Plants

    Figure 3: Venus Flytrap

  4. Bladder traps – They suck in the prey with a bladder, which has an internal vacuum.
  5. Lobster traps/eel traps – They force the prey to move towards a digestive organ with inward-pointing hairs.

The traps can be either active or passive. The flypaper traps of sundews are active and they bend their tentacles around the prey in order to terrain it during the digestion. The bending is due to the rapid acid growth. Meanwhile, the flypaper trap of the Triphyophyllum is passive and only secrete mucilage.

What are Symbiotic Plants

Symbiotic plants maintain mutualistic, communalistic or parasitic relationships with other species.

  1. Mutualism – Both partners benefit in mutualism. Mycorrhizal association is an example of tropical mutualism, which occurs between the roots of the plants and fungus.
    Difference Between Insectivorous Plants and Symbiotic Plants_Symbiotic Plants Mutualism

    Figure 4: Mycorrhiza

  2. Commensalism – Only one partner benefits from the communalistic relationship while the other is not affected. The benefits can be food, shelter or locomotion.
    Difference Between Insectivorous Plants and Symbiotic Plants_Commensalism

    Figure 5: An Epiphytes on a Tree

  3. Parasitism – In parasitism, one partner benefits at the other’s expense. The two types of parasitic plants are total parasite/holoparasite and partial parasite/hemiparasite.
    Difference Between Insectivorous Plants and Symbiotic Plants_Parasitism

    Figure 6: Cassytha filiformis, a Parasitic Plant

Similarities Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants

  • Insectivorous plants and symbiotic plants are two types of plants that maintain relationships with other species.
  • Both types of plants have mutual benefits.

Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants

Definition

Insectivorous plants are plants that capture and digest insects while symbiotic plants are plants that maintain relationships with other species that can be either beneficial or harmful.

Type of Relationship

Insectivorous plants are parasitic plants while symbiotic plants can be mutualistic, communalistic or parasitic.

Significance

Insectivorous plants is a type of symbiotic plant while symbiotic plants maintain relationships for mutualistic benefits.

Examples

Pitcher plant (Nepenthes), Sarracenia, sundew (Drosera), Venus fly trap (Dionaea), etc. are examples of insectivorous plants while mycorrhiza, Cuscuta, Rafflesia, etc. are examples of symbiotic plants.

Conclusion

Insectivorous plants depend on insects in order to fulfil their nitrogen requirement while symbiotic plants maintain relationships such as mutualism, commensalism or parasitism. The main difference between insectivorous plants and symbiotic plants is the type of relationship maintained by plants with other organisms.

Reference:

1. “The Wonders of Insectivorous Plants:” Futurism, Futurism, 22 Mar. 2014, Available Here
2. “Symbiosis – Definition, Types and Examples.” Biology Dictionary, Biology Dictionary, 29 Apr. 2017, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “H chimantensis2″ By Andreas Eils – own work by Andreas Eils (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Drosera anglica ne4″ By No machine-readable author provided. NoahElhardt assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims). (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “venus-flytrap-carnivorous-plant-1531345″ (CC0) via pixabay
4. “06 04 c 19a arbuscular mycorrhiza, Glomeromycota (M. Piepenbring)” By M. Piepenbring – M. Piepenbring (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
5. “epiphyte 2″ By sookie (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
6. “Starr 010520-0082 Cassytha filiformis” By Forest & Kim Starr (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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