Monday, 18 January 2010

Photosynthesising sea slug

Usually only plants can make food directly from sunlight, but a sea slug has been discovered which incorporates algal chloroplasts into its own cells and is performing photosynthesis:

"Some related slugs also engulf chloroplasts but
E. chlorotica alone preserves the organelles in working order for a whole slug lifetime of nearly a year. The slug readily sucks the innards out of algal filaments whenever they’re available, but in good light, multiple meals aren’t essential. Scientists have shown that once a young slug has slurped its first chloroplast meal from one of its few favored species of Vaucheria algae, the slug does not have to eat again for the rest of its life. All it has to do is sunbathe."

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