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Solar-powered sea-slugs live like plants, prof says
Date:11/25/2008

rom the alga, but the slug nucleus contains at least one, and probably more of the genes required for plastid functioning," he adds.

"The slug needs the alga to mature and complete its life cycle," Manhart says. "It is totally dependent on the alga to survive. Once the slug has acquired a sufficient amount of plastids it can survive, like plants, for at least nine months by trapping solar energy and converting it into food."

That means the "baby" slugs are born with genes that support photosynthesis, but they have to gather their own plastids. Manhart says that if the slug and the alga both brave the ever-changing climatic conditions, the slug might evolve into a truly photosynthetic animalthat is, one born with the plastids. But that might be looking too far into the future. For now, he says, the next step would be sequencing the slug's genome.


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Contact: Dr. James Manhart
manhart@mail.bio.tamu.edu
979-845-3356
Texas A&M University
Source:Eurekalert

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