Scientists have found that the carnivorous bladderwort plant is packed with genes.
A new study published in Molecular Biology and Evolution finds that the plant has a smaller genome than most plants, but it actually has more genes — 80 million base pairs of DNA, in fact, according to a Washington Post report.
The plant is six times smaller than the grape, but it actually has more genes: 28,500 compared to 26,300 for the grape, according to the report.
The study builds off of another study from back in 2013 that found that the carnivorous bladderwort doesn’t have “junk” DNA that most organisms have (humans are estimated to have 90 percent junk DNA).
About 3 percent of the plant’s DNA is considered junk, a far lower percentage than other species, making it one of the most efficient users of its DNA.
This new study suggests that the plant may be getting DNA and then tossing at a tremendous rate, and the scientists believe it has duplicated entirely at least three times.
However, the bladderwort doesn’t keep that DNA around — it continues to weed out the useless DNA, creating a tremendous rate of evolutionary turnover, according to the scientists.
It certainly is interesting from an evolutionary standpoint, and scientists can see that it kept the genes useful to aquatic and carnivorous life as they might expect due to natural selection. However, it remains a mystery whey it does this and not other species.
Its own relatives have larger genomes and more junk DNA, and they live in the same habitat and compete for the same resources, so it seems odd that only one species of plant would act this way. It’s something the scientists hope to explore in future studies.