Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Matthew Aardema

Committee Member

James Campanella

Committee Member

Robert Meredith


The traits associated with carnivory in plants have independently evolved within several orders of Angiosperm. Despite this lack of a common origin, carnivorous plants show many remarkably similar adaptations, suggesting that common evolutionary pressures may have shaped these species. Here, we hypothesize that one common trait carnivorous plants share is the number of genes associated with specific biological functions, such as nutrient transport. To test this hypothesis, we first identified genes and gene families in the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana that are associated with previously characterized biological functions that may be important for plant carnivory. We then compared the number of these genes present in the genomes of carnivorous and non-carnivorous plants, respectively. Our results show that the aquaporin gene family is lost or reduced in carnivorous plants. Additionally, the results also indicate that gene families linked with cysteine-type peptidase, superoxide dismutase, phospholipase, and aspartic-type endopeptidase activity have contracted in size within carnivorous plants relative to non-carnivorous plants. These findings support our hypothesis that the copy number for genes involved in nutrient utilization has diverged between non-carnivorous and carnivorous plants, possibly due to adaptations to similar environmental circumstances in the latter group.

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