Sea slug chromosomes hoard algae genes for photosynthesis

February 6, 2015 2:17 PM

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Sea slug chromosomes hoard algae genes for photosynthesis

If you looked at a sea slug, like the Elysia chloroctica very few people would even realize they’re looking at a sea slug. Instead, most people would think they’re looking at a leaf. Turns out there’s very good reason for that. The bright green sea slug looks like a leaf and even lives like one, too. The sea slug even uses photosynthesis to generate energy, and it does so by stealing chloroplasts from algae that are around the sea slug. However, scientists have had a good idea of this theft going on since the 1970s. So, that isn’t necessarily news per say. Something though that scientists didn’t know before was the fact that the sea slug is stealing much more than just chloroplasts.

They’re stealing entire genes to ensure that these processes can continue inside the body of the slug. Researchers found that when the slugs consume algae there are cells inside of their stomach that allow them to hang onto more chloroplasts, effectively boosting their overall numbers inside their b...

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