Slug-Prometheus steals genes from algae
Go green, start living like a plant
Elysia chlorotica, Photo by: Nicholas Curtis and Raymond Martinez
Is it a plant? Is it an animal? It’s Elysia chlorotica! No more munching on algae fibres and endless hours of graising – all the Sea Slug Elysia chlorotica needs is a sunbath to load her batteries! The symbiosis of animals and algae is not uncommon in the animal kingdom. Many other animals carry microorganisms that supply their host with photosynthesis products like corals or certain jellyfish. But the adaption of Elysia chlorotica seems to be an evolutionary first!
The Slug saves the Chloroplasts of her favourite meal the Vaucheria algae in her body for her entire lifetime (up to a year). But these miniature solarcells need a steady supply of Chlorophyll a to function as it gets used up during photosynthesis. Only plants carry the genetic information to manufacture this essential green pigment – unless you steal it from them.
Scientists (Rumpho M.E. et al. 2008) discovered that Elysia chlorotica integrates photosynthesis-related genes from the algae in her own genetic code. Now she not only looks like a leaf but also functions like one. Evolution has shown once more that it is more creative (not creationistic) than we ever imagined.
Video footage of the slug by newscientist.com: Solar-powered sea slug harnesses stolen plant genes
Read more on: sciencenews.org
No related posts.