Katie Nolan

Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Margaret Hanes, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Gary Hannan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Glenn Walker, Ph.D.


The carnivorous pitcher plant genus, Sarracenia, has modified leaves adapted to lure, trap, and digest insect prey. Little is known about surface microstructural ornamentation and variation throughout the genus. Four zones of the leaf were examined in four species throughout the range of the genus using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Nine unique microstructures were identified in the carnivorous leaf. For the first time, microstructures (N=880) were systematically measured and zonal averages were compared among zones (with MANOVA) and species (with PCA). Microstructures are significantly different among zones of the same leaf and vary among different species. These data suggest that each zone is functionally distinct and that these closely related plant species have diverged in surface ornamentation, likely due to differences in prey and habitat. This work can be used to inform questions about plant: prey interactions, taxonomy, digestion mechanics and leaf development.

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