It’s easy being green for a sea slug that has stolen enough genes to become the first animal discovered to make chlorophyll like a plant!!!!

This sea slug eats seaweed and takes up the chlorophyll. With that it can then generate power by using photosynthesis. It also harnesses some genes from the plant matter to make its own chlorophyll basically becoming a plant-animal hybrid. It can then live off the sun’s energy without the need to feed itself. Crazy….

Solar power is a relatively new development for humans but, of course, many living things have been exploiting the power of the sun for millions of years, through the process of photosynthesis. This ability is usually limited to plants, algae and bacteria, but one unique animal can do it too – the emerald green sea slug Elysia chlorotica. This remarkable creature steals the genes and photosynthetic factories of a type of algae

The sea slug Elysia chlorotica has incorporated enough of the plant’s genes into its own DNA to manufacture chlorophyll in its own body!

The slugs can manufacture the most common form of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants that captures energy from sunlight, Pierce reported January 7 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Pierce used a radioactive tracer to show that the slugs were making the pigment, called chlorophyll a, themselves and not simply relying on chlorophyll reserves stolen from the algae the slugs dine on.

“This could be a fusion of a plant and an animal — that’s just cool,” said invertebrate zoologist John Zardus of The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

Microbes swap genes readily, but Zardus said he couldn’t think of another natural example of genes flowing between multicellular kingdoms.

It looks like the tree of life has some spots where it merges as well as branches. Link to article

Advertisements