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Bittleston’s research into tiny microbes receives big award

“The carnivorous pitcher plant has colorful, usually variegated, leaves shaped like little cups. Water collects inside the pitcher plant where it digests insects that are attracted to the nectar on its slippery leaves and then fall into the water. Carnivorous pitcher plants live along the east and west coasts of the United States, South America, Southeast Asia and even Australia. These plants live in low-nutrient soils, often bogs, and survive by “eating” insects.

Leonora Bittleston, an assistant professor of biology at Boise State, doesn’t study the carnivorous pitcher plant or even the insects it eats. She studies something smaller within the water that collects inside its cup-like leaves. Specifically, Bittleston studies how the microbial communities within the water of these host plants form…”

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Leonora Bittleston with a carnivorous pitcher plant from Southeast Asia known as Nepenthes. Photo by Jessica Bernardin.