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Algae that live inside the cells of salamanders are the first known vertebrate endosymbionts
Date:4/4/2011

oth (mutualism), or benefit one creature and leave the other unaffected (commensalism).

Endosymbiosis is a special type of symbiosis, requiring one organism to live inside the cells of another. It is not yet known how the endosymbiotic infiltration of salamander embryo cells affects either the salamander or the alga. Anything is possible, despite the fact that the overall relationship between the two species is established as mutualistically beneficial.

Endosymbiosis also has special evolutionary significance, as it is presumed by biologists to have preceded the full integration of certain cell organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, special structures that perform unique functions within cells -- and possess their own chromosomes.

Kerney and Hangarter say they hope their ongoing work will inspire interest in local biology and respect for environmental protection.

"We would like this work to draw attention to a fascinating yet common backyard salamander, and hope that it will both raise awareness of the species and promote the preservation of their fragile breeding habitat," Kerney said.

Hangarter agreed, adding, "I think it is important for people to realize that you do not need to go to exotic locations to make interesting scientific discoveries. The vernal ponds that the salamanders mate in are also essential for many other amphibians and other organisms, but such ponds are often among the first things destroyed when humans develop in wooded areas. One 500 square-foot pond might service several thousand mating salamanders and frogs that might inhabit an area of a few acres of woodland."


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Contact: David Bricker
brickerd@indiana.edu
812-856-9035
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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