Biology Lecture No. 1: How To Make A Solar-Powered Animal
Monday January 9 , 2012
The Photosynthetic Animal:
-A species of sea slug known as Elysia chlorotica is one of the few animals on Earth that actively thrives almost
exclusively through the process quite familiar to plants, photosynthesis.
-However, Elysia chlorotica is not born with these capabilities. It must consume a species of alga in order to
acquire the chloroplasts (or plastids) needed to engage in photosynthesis.
-Once it ensures a steady diet of algae, Elysia chlorotica remarkably incorporates the received chloroplasts
(undamaged by oral digestion) into its own somatic cells (specifically those lining the gut).
-Once the animal’s new plastids become fully functional, they act like solar panels to convert the energy from
the sun into usable forms of energy through photosynthesis.
-But what is necessary to make chloroplasts functional?
-A term used to refer to the obtaining of a plastid or chloroplast by an organism.
-Only aquatic animals can perform kleptoplasty.
-Heterotrophy: - A classification for organisms that cannot fix carbon and therefore must obtain their energy
from reduced organic forms of carbon (sugars, carbohydrates, proteins).
-Autotrophy: -A classification for organisms that possess the ability to convert carbon dioxide (or other carbon
molecules) into a reduced form by way of an energy rich compound (sun’s energy for photoautotrophs and
chemical energy for chemoautotrophs).
-Elysia chlorotica spends the majority of its life as an autotroph using the plastids it obtains through kleptoplasty
to convert the energy from the sun by photosynthesis.
-The filamentous yellow-green species of alga (eukaryote) that is the primary constituent of Elysia chlorotica’s
-Responsible for the Elysia’s natural affinity to photosynthesize. Photosynthesis In Elysia Chlorotica:
-When measuring the rate of photosynthesis i