Digestion Of Prey

The bottom of the hollow pitcher, zone 3, is lined with glands which secrete digestive enzymes and zone 4 with absorptive glands. These enzymes are effective in the chemical breakdown of prey, except for the more resistant portions of the insect's body, such as chitin. Numerous organisms exist and thrive in the liquid that accumulates in the base of the pitchers. Among these denizens are yeast cells and bacteria which assist in the digestion of the prey, although the full extent of their role has not been ascertained. In any case, digestion does occur and protein is broken down into amino acids, which are absorbed by the plant along with minerals. The efficiency of Sarracenia pitchers is attested to by the numerous insects and their remains that accumulate in the base of the pitchers. Some of the more common victims are ants, beetles, crickets, wasps, spiders, flies of various kinds, and occasionally small toads.

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