green_sea_slug

Elysia Chlorotica, the green sea slug, is the first animal genetically capable of photosynthesis. Image by Nicholas E. Curtis and Ray Martinez.

Some of you all might remember that my very first post was about sea slugs, my favorite animals in the ocean. I feel like I did a disservice to this individual sea slug, which I only mentioned briefly at the end. This sea slug is the first animal ever that can photosynthesize-as in turn light energy into food energy, like a plant, once again proving that sea slugs are absolutely amazing, astonishing creatures that will constantly surprise us. The research has shown that these sea slugs need only eat an algae meal once in their life, to capture and take into their cells the organelles called chloroplasts. Once it has this organelle, the sea slug has in its DNA the ability to create the 16 enzymes necessary to create chlorophyll, the pigment that captures the suns energy, which also requires the cooperation from multiple cell components. HOLY SHIT AND WOW. Even unhatched sea slugs, which have never eaten algae, have the genes necessary. This is another one of the sea slugs unbelievable adaptations that has made me a fan for life. To find more about the research that has been done and learn some more about these animals’ abilities, check out this Wired Science article from earlier this year. BTW, one of the top guys investigating this slug is actually studying sea monsters.

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