Metamaterial architecture from a self-shaping carnivorous plant

Caterina A.M. La Porta*, Maria Chiara Lionetti, Silvia Bonfanti, Simone Milan, Cinzia Ferrario, Daniel Rayneau-Kirkhope, Mario Beretta, Maryam Hanifpour, Umberto Fascio, Miriam Ascagni, Larissa De Paola, Zoe Budrikis, Mario Schiavoni, Ermelinda Falletta, Alessandro Caselli, Oleksandr Chepizhko, Ausonio Tuissi, Alberto Vailati, Stefano Zapperi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
96 Downloads (Pure)


As meticulously observed and recorded by Darwin, the leaves of the carnivorous plant Drosera capensis L. slowly fold around insects trapped on their sticky surface in order to ensure their digestion. While the biochemical signaling driving leaf closure has been associated with plant growth hormones, how mechanical forces actuate the process is still unknown. Here, we combine experimental tests of leaf mechanics with quantitative measurements of the leaf microstructure and biochemistry to demonstrate that the closure mechanism is programmed into the cellular architecture of D. capensis leaves, which converts a homogeneous biochemical signal into an asymmetric response. Inspired by the leaf closure mechanism, we devise and test a mechanical metamaterial, which curls under homogeneous mechanical stimuli. This kind of metamaterial could find possible applications as a component in soft robotics and provides an example of bioinspired design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18777-18782
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Bending
  • Biomechanics
  • Drosera capensis
  • Metamaterials

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