Agriculture
Got Milk? How?
Seeds of the Future
Vitamin D-licious Mushrooms
Amphibians
Poison Dart Frogs
Tree Frogs
Frogs and Toads
Animals
Crocodile Hearts
Staying Away from Sick Lobsters
Mouse Songs
Behavior
Pipefish power from mom
Swine flu goes global
Meet your mysterious relative
Birds
Parakeets
Robins
Cardinals
Chemistry and Materials
A Framework for Growing Bone
When frog gender flips
Atomic Drive
Computers
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
The science of disappearing
Getting in Touch with Touch
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Ferocious Growth Spurts
Ancient Critter Caught Shedding Its Skin
Dinosaur Dig
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Warmest Year on Record
Island of Hope
Digging into a Tsunami Disaster
Environment
Toxic Cleanups Get a Microbe Boost
Plant Gas
Acid Snails
Finding the Past
The Taming of the Cat
A Plankhouse Past
Sahara Cemetery
Fish
Lungfish
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Dogfish
Food and Nutrition
A Pepper Part that Burns Fat
Chew for Health
Moving Good Fats from Fish to Mice
GSAT English Rules
Capitalization Rules
Adjectives and Adverbs
Who vs. Whom
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Exam Preparation
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT Mathematics
Deep-space dancers
Detecting True Art
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Human Body
A New Touch
Disease Detectives
Football Scrapes and Nasty Infections
Invertebrates
Snails
Flatworms
Lobsters
Mammals
Jaguars
Hamsters
Elephants
Parents
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
How children learn
Physics
IceCube Science
Electric Backpack
Project Music
Plants
Making the most of a meal
Cactus Goo for Clean Water
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Reptiles
Sea Turtles
Anacondas
Reptiles
Space and Astronomy
Sounds of Titan
A Planet's Slim-Fast Plan
Saturn's New Moons
Technology and Engineering
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
Spinach Power for Solar Cells
Dancing with Robots
The Parts of Speech
What is a Preposition?
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Noun
Transportation
Revving Up Green Machines
Robots on the Road, Again
Robots on a Rocky Road
Weather
Science loses out when ice caps melt
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Arctic Melt
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™