We are small, independent research instute located in Daejeon, the fifth-largest city in South Korea. Daejeon is a major science and research centre, thanks no doubt to the presence of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST, aka the ‘MIT of South Korea’). Though just a small town up until the 1970s, Daejeon is now an overgrown suburb of Seoul. Our studies mainly concern carnivorous and parasitic plants and we perform fundamental research on species, populations and communities.
We are an external institution for doctoral (PhD.) studies, and we also offer topics for bachelor and master theses for the first and second level of university education.
We provide consultation and expertise in our specific areas of applied biodiversity studies and environmental monitoring.
Plants are often thought of as docile, passive creatures that are helplessly reliant on the soil in which they grow. However, some species of plants have shown that when necessary, they can develop some fascinating capabilities. Speaking realistically, nature at its core is not kind. Plants and all other forms of life must adapt to survive and multiply. In the plant kingdom, the will and need to survive has triggered some unique adaptations, resulting in several different species of plants that beckon us to rethink everything we think we know about plant growth and survival. Two enticing examples are plants that have become carnivorous or parasitic.
There are more than 600 documented species of carnivorous plants worldwide spanning several different plant families. Carnivorous plants are most often flowering vascular plants with the ability to perform photosynthesis and receive mineral nutrients via their roots. Through the years, this type of plant has evolved the ability to capture and consume insects of various types and sizes.
Although there are many different types of traps, the circumstances that have led to this type of adaptation are similar in nearly every instance. Carnivorous plants are found growing in areas such as bogs and marshes that lack the proper amounts of mineral nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, to encourage healthy plant growth and reproduction.
The development of insect traps was triggered by the lack of available nutrition in the soil. Traps include pitfall traps (pitcher plants), flypaper-style traps (sundews), snap traps (Venus flytraps), suction traps (bladderworts) and lobster-pot traps. Two popular carnivorous plants that can be grown at home both indoors and out are Venus flytraps and pitcher plants.
This group of vascular plants has adapted the ability to fend for themselves in conditions that lack available nutrients or where the competition for nutrients is extreme. Parasitic plants vary from those that are fully photosynthetic to those that are just barely able to photosynthesize.
As the name implies, parasitic plants have circumvented the need to find nutrients in a small plot of soil by the development of a modified meristem root called a haustorium that can penetrate the vascular system of another plant, called a host, stealing vital mineral nutrients, water and carbohydrates for its own benefit. This type of interaction often results in fatality for the host plant.
Parasitic plants can attack a host in a variety of ways ranging from an attack on the roots to an attack on the vascular tissue found in the stems. Two examples of parasitic plants that are somewhat well known are the several different species of mistletoe and the dodder vine.