Agriculture
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Fast-flying fungal spores
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Amphibians
Salamanders
Bullfrogs
Salamanders and Newts
Animals
A Butterfly's New Green Glow
Revenge of the Cowbirds
Elephant Mimics
Behavior
Face values
Storing Memories before Bedtime
Fighting fat with fat
Birds
Lovebirds
Penguins
Condors
Chemistry and Materials
Revving Up Green Machines
When frog gender flips
The science of disappearing
Computers
Galaxies far, far, far away
Look into My Eyes
Supersonic Splash
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Hall of Dinos
The Paleontologist and the Three Dinosaurs
Message in a dinosaur's teeth
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
A Dire Shortage of Water
Less Mixing Can Affect Lake's Ecosystem
The Rise of Yellowstone
Environment
A Newspaper's Hidden Cost
Inspired by Nature
A 'Book' on Every Living Thing
Finding the Past
A Plankhouse Past
Oldest Writing in the New World
The Puzzle of Ancient Mariners
Fish
Angler Fish
Bull Sharks
Sharks
Food and Nutrition
Recipe for Health
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
The Color of Health
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Who vs. Whom
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Mathematics
Deep-space dancers
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
Monkeys Count
Human Body
A Better Flu Shot
A Sour Taste in Your Mouth
Attacking Asthma
Invertebrates
Jellyfish
Beetles
Flies
Mammals
Lhasa Apsos
Yorkshire Terriers
Oxen
Parents
How children learn
Children and Media
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Physics
Gaining a Swift Lift
One ring around them all
IceCube Science
Plants
A Change in Leaf Color
Fungus Hunt
Getting the dirt on carbon
Reptiles
Lizards
Turtles
Tortoises
Space and Astronomy
Dark Galaxy
A Planet's Slim-Fast Plan
Gravity Tractor as Asteroid Mover
Technology and Engineering
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
Roll-Up Computer Monitors to Go
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
The Parts of Speech
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Preposition?
Problems with Prepositions
Transportation
Ready, unplug, drive
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
How to Fly Like a Bat
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Where rivers run uphill
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Add your Article

Making the most of a meal

For decades, people have been telling each other, “You are what you eat” — meaning that the nutrition in a person’s diet affects his or her health. It doesn’t mean, for example, that if you eat a plant, you become a plant.

At least, not for people.

For a certain kind of sea slug, however, those words are more than just a reminder to eat well. The Elysia chlorotica is a sea slug that looks like a leaf and eats by sucking the insides out of strands of algae. (Yum!) These algae, like plants, get their food by using sunlight to help make sugar.

At a recent meeting of scientists, a biologist named Sidney K. Pierce reported a surprising observation in these algae-eating sea slugs. Pierce does his research at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Pierce already knew that these sea animals, just like plants, have the right chemical tools to turn sunlight into food. Surprisingly, now he’s learned that the sea slugs aren’t simply stealing what they need to do this from the algae. They’ve also stolen the recipe for how to make chlorophyll, a chemical that is vital to the process, and can make chlorophyll themselves. In other words, they have started to behave like their food.

“This could be a fusion of a plant and an animal — that’s just cool,” John Zardus told Science News. Zardus is an invertebrate zoologist at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. Invertebrates are animals that don’t have backbones (like slugs), and zoology is the study of animals — so Zardus studies animals without backbones.

Inside their cells, plants have tiny structures called chloroplasts. These chloroplasts turn carbon dioxide and water into sugar using sunlight and a chemical called chlorophyll. (The first part of the word comes from the Greek word chloros, which means “green” —chlorophyll gives green plants their color.) The process of the chloroplasts using chlorophyll to make sugar is called photosynthesis.

Like plants, the algae that get eaten by the sea slugs also use photosynthesis. When Pierce’s slug eats algae, it separates out the chloroplasts. Instead of digesting and excreting the chloroplasts, the sea slug absorbs them inside its own cells. Pierce and his colleagues already knew that once a slug has chloroplasts inside its cells, it can use photosynthesis to make food — which means it may not even have to eat for the rest of its life (about a year). Other animals, like coral, have been known to stash cells containing chloroplasts and use some of the food they make.

But the chloroplasts use up the chlorophyll during photosynthesis, and a fresh supply is needed. Where does it come from? One idea was that when an animal absorbed the chloroplasts, they came with a lifetime supply of chlorophyll. But as it turns out, that’s not the case with these sea slugs. Pierce and his colleagues found that unlike other animals, sea slugs can make their own chlorophyll — which means that they have stolen more than just the chloroplasts.

Deep inside almost every living cell are genes, which function like recipes for how to make what the organism needs. A plant has genes, for example, that contain the instructions for chlorophyll. As it turns out, so do sea slugs — as Pierce and his colleagues are discovering.

So sea slugs not only ingest the chloroplasts — they’ve also “adopted” part of these genetic instructions from their food. In other words, these sea slugs are truly becoming what they eat. Even stranger — it’s the first time the worlds of algae and animals have seemed to overlap like this.

Making the most of a meal
Making the most of a meal








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™