Convergent and divergent evolution in carnivorous pitcher plant traps

Chris J. Thorogood*, Ulrike Bauer, Simon J. Hiscock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The pitcher trap is a striking example of convergent evolution across unrelated carnivorous plant lineages. Convergent traits that have evolved across pitcher plant lineages are essential for trap function, suggesting that key selective pressures are in action. Recent studies have also revealed patterns of divergent evolution in functional pitcher morphology within genera. Adaptations to
differences in local prey assemblages may drive such divergence and, ultimately, speciation. Here, we review recent research on convergent and divergent evolution in pitcher plant traps, with a focus on the genus Nepenthes, which we propose as a new model for research into adaptive radiation and speciation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1041
Number of pages7
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Early online date13 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • adaptive radiation
  • Cephalotus
  • functional morphology
  • Nepenthes
  • Sarraceniaceae
  • speciation

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