The theme for Open day this year of the Department of Plant Science was Fascinating Plants. A vibrant atmosphere of excitement, curiosity and expectation filled the air as learners from various schools and ages, accompanied by their parents flocked to the Rautenbach Hall. Just to be astonished by the displays by the various departments.
Plant Sciences chose carnivorous plants as their “Fascinating Plants”; and are they not only fascinating but also incredible……………? The learners were able to examine Dodonaea muscipula (Venus Flytrap) and Drosera capensis (Sundew) under the microscope, opening up a whole new wonder world to them.
Medicinal plant science exhibited their newest cosmetic range and it was fascinating to learn that the Venus flytrap is being investigated as a cure for cancer. Even the “plant monster” from the movie Little Shop of Horrors had a prominent spot in the display.
Bio-technology investigated interesting genetic facts in connection with some of the carnivorous plants and learnt that Nepenthes khasiana depends on the NkCHIT2b and NkCHIT1b genes to encode chitinases to digest its prey, insects of course. Utricularia gibba (floating bladderwort) has an exceptionally small genome for a plant and may provide numerous candidate genes as interesting targets for further experimental confirmation of their functional and adaptive roles in its unique lifestyle.
Plant Ecology and biodiversity concentrated on the distribution and variety of these carnivorous creatures.