Carnivorous Plants Hold Anti-fungal Clues

TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 19 (UPI) — Enzymes found in the liquid of carnivorous plants could serve as a new class of anti-fungal drugs in human medicine, scientists in Israel said.

Researchers at New Tel Aviv University studied enzymes that were activated when insects fell into the “pitchers” of the plants, said university botanist Aviah Zilberstein.

Those enzymes show promise in treating fungi that are widespread in hospitals in secondary infections, Zilberstein said in a release.

“To avoid sharing precious food resources with other micro organisms such as fungi, the carnivorous plant has developed a host of agents that act as natural anti-fungal agents,” Zilberstein said. “In the natural habitat of the tropics … the hot, moist environment is perfect for fungi, which would also love to eat the plant’s insect meal.”

Zilberstein’s team studied the carnivorous plant Nepenthes khasiana, native to India, where folk stories tell of people drinking from carnivorous plants to stave off infections, the researchers wrote in a recent issue of the journal Experimental Biology.

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