Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Animal to Plant - Genetic Modification Anyone?
WONDER SLUG: A sea slug that lives in marshes and creeks along the U.S. Atlantic coast is apparently part animal and part plant, according to a new study by a University of South Florida researcher. Elysia chlorotica (pictured) is shaped like a leaf and is already known for stealing organelles and even genes from photosynthesizing algae, the biological equivalent of kidnapping a restaurant's kitchen staff for your own personal use. But the green slug has now stolen enough photosynthesis equipment that it has incorporated an entire plant chemical-making pathway into its body - the first known evidence of an animal doing so. The slug now produces chlorophyll on its own, rather than relying on a plant, meaning it can make its own food using just sunlight and water. "This could be a fusion of a plant and an animal - that's just cool," says one scientist not involved with the study. Another calls the findings "bizarre," adding that "[s]teps in evolution can be more creative than I ever imagined." (Source: Wired)