Skip to main content

Adaptive significance of light and food for a kleptoplastic sea slug: implications for photosynthesis

Abstract

Sacoglossan sea slugs can ‘steal’ chloroplasts from their algal food and use them for photosynthesis (kleptoplasty). Although it has been shown that light has positive effects on survival and body size retention of some sacoglossans likely through photosynthesis, it is unknown whether light affects their fitness components such as number of offspring or offspring size. Moreover, whether the effects of light extend over the sacoglossans’ lifetime has been unexplored. To assess such long-term effects of light intensity and food availability on fitness components, we conducted a 15.9-week laboratory experiment using Elysia atroviridis under a combination of two light intensities (low or high) and two food conditions (with or without food). The total number of eggs laid was greater in the presence of both strong light and food than in other conditions, suggesting positive effects of both light intensity and food availability. The shell height at hatch was also largest in the presence of strong light and food. Larval rearing experiments showed that the size difference at hatch between conditions corresponded to a 1.19–1.93 days growth and 7.9–18.1% survival increase. Thus, positive effects of light and food on the fitness components extend over the lifetime of E. atroviridis.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Data availability

The datasets supporting this article have been uploaded as part of the electronic supplementary material.

References

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Drs. Kunifumi Tagawa, Noriko Yasuoka, and the staff at Mukaishima Marine Biological Laboratory of Hiroshima University for help in collection, and Drs. Atsushi Sakai, Keiji Wada, Hiroaki Sato, Izumi Katano, and two anonymous reviewers for advice and comments.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

HS and YY conceived and designed the research. HS, SM, and YY performed the research. HS, TYI, and YY analyzed data. All authors contributed to the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yoichi Yusa.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical approval

All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Additional information

Communicated by Pablo Munguia.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Shiroyama, H., Mitoh, S., Ida, T.Y. et al. Adaptive significance of light and food for a kleptoplastic sea slug: implications for photosynthesis. Oecologia 194, 455–463 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-020-04779-6

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-020-04779-6

Keywords

  • Animal
  • Chloroplast
  • Fitness
  • Kleptoplasty
  • Sacoglossa