Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants | Insectivorous vs Symbiotic Plants


The key difference between insectivorous and symbiotic plants is that the insectivorous plants feed on insects through trapping and digesting them while symbiotic plants maintain a close relationship with another plant species which is mutually beneficial for both or either one of them.

Plants possess different modes of nutrition. Furthermore, the type of nutrition varies from species to species depending on many factors. These factors include the type of species, their anatomy, nutrient requirements, etc. Carnivorous plants or insectivorous plants and symbiotic plants are two groups of plants that maintain a relationship with other species. However, symbiotic plants maintain three types of relationships with another type of species: mutualism, parasitism, and commensalism. Moreover, carnivorous plants are categorized under partial parasitic plants.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Insectivorous Plants 
3. What are Symbiotic Plants
4. Similarities Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants
5. Side by Side Comparison – Insectivorous vs Symbiotic Plants in Tabular Form
6. Summary

What are Insectivorous Plants?

Insectivorous or carnivorous plants are designed to capture insects through their anatomical traps and then feed on them after digestion. They are semi-parasitic plants. The main purpose of the presence of such mode of nutrition is to facilitate the provision of nitrogen to the plant. These plants fulfill their total nitrogen requirement in this manner.

Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants | Insectivorous vs Symbiotic Plants

Figure 01: Insectivorous Plant

Insectivorous plants use five main mechanisms to trap insects. They are pitfall traps, flypaper traps, snap traps, bladder traps, and lobster/eel traps. These traps can be either active or passive. In pitfall traps, the prey is trapped in a rolled leaf where the bottom contains a pool of digestive enzymes which digest the prey. Flypaper traps contain sticky mucilage (a thick glue-like substance) to trap the prey whereas snap trap mechanism uses rapid leaf movements to capture the prey. In bladder traps, an internal vacuum sucks the prey into a bladder and later digest it. The lobster/eel trap, on the other hand, forcefully move the prey into a digestive organ.

What are Symbiotic Plants?

Symbiotic plants are a type of plants that maintain a long-term association with another species. The association could be three types as mutualistic, commensalistic or parasitic. Symbiotic associations are present due to several factors such as habitat, water, and nutrients. According to the type of association, the partners are either benefitted or harmed.

Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants | Insectivorous vs Symbiotic Plants

Figure 01: Symbiotic Plant – Hemiparasitic Plant

Both partners benefit in a mutualistic association. The most common example of mutualistic plants is mycorrhiza. It is the association of a species of fungus with roots of plants. The roots provide shelter and nutrients for the fungus and in return, the fungus helps the plant roots to explore and extract nutrients from the surrounding and also protects the plant from harmful organisms.

In commensalism, one partner benefits and the other partner get neither benefitted nor harmed. But in parasitism, one organism is harmed while the other organism is benefitted. Parasitic plants are of two types: total parasitic plants and partial/semi-parasitic plants.

What are the Similarities Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants?

  • Insectivorous and symbiotic plants are two types of plants.
  • Both types maintain associations with another type of species.
  • Also, both types of plants possess mutual benefits.

What is the Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants?

Insectivorous and symbiotic plants are two types of plants based on the mode of nutrition. Insectivorous plants capture insects and fulfill their nitrogen requirements while symbiotic plants maintain a relationship with another plant for shelter, nutrition or water requirement. So, we can consider this as the key difference between insectivorous and symbiotic plants. Moreover, a further difference between insectivorous and symbiotic plants is that the insectivorous plants are semi-parasitic plants while symbiotic plants can be mutualistic, commensalistic or parasitic.

The below infographic summarizes the difference between insectivorous and symbiotic plants.

Difference Between Insectivorous and Symbiotic Plants | Insectivorous vs Symbiotic Plants

Summary – Insectivorous vs Symbiotic Plants

The mode of nutrition of plants differs from species to species. This is mainly due to their nutrient requirement. Hence, they utilize different mechanisms to fulfill their nutritional needs. Insectivorous plants use their anatomical traps to capture insects and digest to feed on them while symbiotic plants associate another species of organisms under three avenues: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism. Thus, this is the difference between insectivorous plants and symbiotic plants.

Reference :

1. “Carnivorous Plant.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 18 Oct. 2017, Available here.
2. “Symbiosis.” Trees for Life, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Venus fly trap” By Selena N. B. H (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
2. “Mistletoe-0243” By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia