r curd was dissolved in 6 hrs. and still more completely in 8 hrs. These leaves re-expanded after two days, and the viscid fluid left on their discs was then carefully scraped off and examined. It seemed at first sight as if all the casein had not been dissolved, for a little matter was left which appeared of a whitish colour by reflected light. But this matter, when examined under a high power, and when compared with a minute drop of skimmed milk coagulated by acetic acid, was seen to consist exclusively of oil-globules, more or less aggregated together, with no trace of casein. As I was not familiar with the microscopical appearance of milk, I asked Dr. Lauder Brunton to examine the slides, and he tested the globules with ether, and found that they were dissolved. We may, therefore, conclude that the secretion quickly dissolves casein, in the state in which it exists in milk.
Chemically Prepared Casein.--This substance, which
* 'Leons,' &c. tom. ii. page 151. [page 115]
is insoluble in water, is supposed by many chemists to differ from the casein of fresh milk. I procured some, consisting of hard globules, from Messrs. Hopkins and Williams, and tried many experiments with it. Small particles and the powder, both in a dry state and moistened with water, caused the leaves on which they were placed to be inflected very slowly, generally not until two days had elapsed. Other particles, wetted with weak hydrochloric acid (one part to 437 of water) acted in a single day, as did some casein freshly prepared for me by Dr. Moore. The tentacles commonly remained inflected for from seven to nine days; and during the whole of this time the secretion was strongly acid. Even on the eleventh day some secretion left on the disc of a fully re-expanded leaf was strongly acid. The acid seems to be secreted quickly, for in one case the secretion from the discal glands, on which a little powdered casein had been strewed, coloured litmus paper, before any of the exterior tentacles were inflected.
Small cubes of hard casein, moistened with water, were placed on two leaves; after three days one cube had its angles a little rounded, and after seven days both consisted of rounded softened masses, in the midst of much viscid and acid secretion; but it must not be inferred from this fact that the angles were dissolved, for cubes immersed in water were similarly acted on. After nine days these leaves began to re-expand, but in this and other cases the casein did not appear, as far as could be judged by the eye, much, if at all, reduced in bulk. According to Hoppe-Seyler and Lubavin* casein consists of an albuminous, with
* Dr. Lauder Brunton, 'Handbook for Phys. Lab.' p. 529. [page 116]
a non-albuminous, substance; and the absorption of a very small quantity of the former would excite the leaves, and yet not decrease the casein to a perceptible degree. Schiff asserts*--and this is an important fact for us--that "la casine purifie des chemistes est un corps presque compltement inattaquable par le suc gastrique." So that here we have another point of accordance between the secretion of Drosera and gastric juice, as both act so differently on the fresh casein of milk, and on that prepared by chemists.
A few trials were made with cheese; cubes of 1/20 of an inch (1.27 mm.) were placed on four leaves, and these after one or two days became well inflected, their glands pouring forth much acid secretion. After five days they began to re-expand, but one died, and some of the glands on the other leaves were injured. Judging by the eye, the softened and subsided masses of cheese, left on the discs, were very little or not at all reduced in bulk. We may, however, infer from the time during which the tentacles remained inflected,--from the changed colour of some of the glands,--and from the injury done to others, that matter had been absorbed from the cheese.
Legumin.--I did not procure this substance in a separate state; but there can hardly be a doubt that it would be easily digested, judging from the powerful effect produced by drops of a decoction of green peas, as described in the last chapter.