I therefore wished to compare its action with that of pure gelatine. Solutions of one part of both substances to 218 of water were made; and half-minim drops (.0296 ml.) were placed on the discs of eight leaves, so that each received 1/480 of a grain, or .135 mg. The four with the isinglass were much more strongly inflected than the other four. I conclude therefore that isinglass contains some, though perhaps very little, soluble albuminous matter. As soon as these eight leaves re-expanded, they were given bits of roast meat, and in some hours all became greatly inflected; again showing how much more meat excites Drosera than does gelatine or isinglass. This is an interesting fact, as it is well known that gelatine by itself has little power of nourishing animals.*
Chondrin.--This was sent me by Dr. Moore in a gelatinous state. Some was slowly dried, and a small chip was placed on a leaf, and a much larger chip on a second leaf. The first was liquefied in a day; the larger piece was much swollen and softened, but was not completely liquefied until the third day. The undried jelly was next tried, and as a control experiment small cubes were left in water for four days and retained their angles. Cubes of the same size were placed on two leaves, and larger cubes on two other leaves. The tentacles and laminae of the latter were closely inflected after 22 hrs., but those of the
* Dr. Lauder Brunton gives in the 'Medical Record,' January 1873, p. 36, an account of Voit's view of the indirect part which gelatine plays in nutrition. [page 113]
two leaves with the smaller cubes only to a moderate degree. The jelly on all four was by this time liquefied, and rendered very acid. The glands were blackened from the aggregation of their protoplasmic contents. In 46 hrs. from the time when the jelly was given, the leaves had almost re-expanded, and completely so after 70 hrs.; and now only a little slightly adhesive fluid was left unabsorbed on their discs.
One part of chondrin jelly was dissolved in 218 parts of boiling water, and half-minim drops were given to four leaves; so that each received about 1/480 of a grain (.135 mg.) of the jelly; and, of course, much less of dry chondrin. This acted most powerfully, for after only 3 hrs. 30 m. all four leaves were strongly inflected. Three of them began to re-expand after 24 hrs., and in 48 hrs. were completely open; but the fourth had only partially re-expanded. All the liquefied chondrin was by this time absorbed. Hence a solution of chondrin seems to act far more quickly and energetically than pure gelatine or isinglass; but I am assured by good authorities that it is most difficult, or impossible, to know whether chondrin is pure, and if it contained any albuminous compound, this would have produced the above effects. Nevertheless, I have thought these facts worth giving, as there is so much doubt on the nutritious value of gelatine; and Dr. Lauder Brunton does not know of any experiments with respect to animals on the relative value of gelatine and chondrin.
Milk.--We have seen in the last chapter that milk acts most powerfully on the leaves; but whether this is due to the contained casein or albumen, I know not. Rather large drops of milk excite so much secretion (which is very acid) that it sometimes trickles down [page 114] from the leaves, and this is likewise characteristic of chemically prepared casein. Minute drops of milk, placed on leaves, were coagulated in about ten minutes. Schiff denies* that the coagulation of milk by gastric juice is exclusively due to the acid which is present, but attributes it in part to the pepsin; and it seems doubtful whether with Drosera the coagulation can be wholly due to the acid, as the secretion does not commonly colour litmus paper until the tentacles have become well inflected; whereas the coagulation commences, as we have seen, in about ten minutes. Minute drops of skimmed milk were placed on the discs of five leaves; and a large proportion of the coagulated matter o