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Triantha occidentalis Discovered in North America

A new study discovered a new lineage of flesh-eating plants that lurk in bogs next to major metropolitan areas of the Pacific Northwest. The plant is known as Triantha occidentalis; its meat-eating proclivities were identified for the first time during field expeditions to Cypress Provincial Park, which is just north of Vancouver, British Columbia. The study was published in the National Academy of Sciences.

According to a study, in addition to being minted as the 12th known example of independent evolution of carnivory in plants, Triantha occidentalis also proved to be unique among carnivorous plants and unexpected based on theory. Qianshi Lin, who led the new study while he was a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia said that they are very excited about the discovery of a rare new origin of carnivory.

Lin who is a postdoctoral fellow in biology said that before our finding, over the past two decades, only one new example of carnivory has been found. Lin and his advisor Sean Graham, a professor of botany at UBC who co-authored the new research, were motivated to search for carnivory in Triantha occidentalis due to the results of the 2016 study, also co-authored by Graham, which found that Triantha lacks a gene that has been lost in other carnivorous plant species.

The researchers spotted a genetic similarity to certain botanical meat-eaters was not the only clue that T. occidentalis might be eating on bug flesh. The plant also grows sticky hairs on its stems that trap small insects, and it thrives in the kind of nutrient-poor environments typical of carnivorous plants. All of these factors suggested the herb could be cryptically carnivorous.

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