The kleptoplastic sea slug Elysia clarki prolongs photosynthesis by synthesizing chlorophyll a and b
- 425 Downloads
Several species of kleptoplastic, sacoglossan sea slug photosynthesize using chloroplasts sequestered inside their digestive cells from algal food sources. However, sequestered chloroplasts alone are not sufficient for months-long, continuous photosynthesis and maintenance of the chloroplasts in absence of the algal nucleus. Some type of plastid maintenance mechanism must be present to help sustain photosynthetic activity in the long term kleptoplastic species, such as Elysia clarki. We demonstrate that E. clarki starved for 2 weeks are able to synthesize chlorophylls, but that slugs starved for 14 weeks no longer synthesize chlorophyll. The subsidence of chlorophyll synthesis is coincident with the cessation of photosynthesis by the starved slugs, but it is not yet known if the cessation of pigment synthesis is the cause or some other aspect of plastid degradation produces a loss of synthetic ability.
KeywordsSacoglossan Kleptoplasty Chlorophyll synthesis Animal photosynthesis
We would like to thank Julie Schwartz for help in preparing samples and running the HPLC. We thank a private donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, for financial support.
- Clark KB, Jensen KR, Stirts HM (1990) Survey for functional kleptoplasty among West Atlantic Ascoglossa (=Sacoglossa) (Mollusca Opisthobranchia). Veliger 33(4):339–345Google Scholar
- Gibson GD, Toews DP, Bleakney JS (1986) Oxygen production and consumption in the sacoglossan (=ascoglossan) Elysia chlorotica Gould. Veliger 28(4):397–400Google Scholar
- Green BJ, Li W-y, Manhart JR, Fox TC, Kennedy RA, Pierce SK, Rumpho ME (2000) Mollusc-algal chloroplast endosymbiosis. Photosynthesis, thylakoid protein maintenance and chloroplast gene expression continue for many months in the absence of the algal nucleus. Plant Physiol 124:331–342. doi: 10.1104/pp.124.1.331 Google Scholar
- Greene RW, Muscatine L (1972) Symbiosis in sacoglossan opisthobranchs: photosynthetic products of animal-chloroplast associations. Mar Biol 14(3):253–259Google Scholar
- Pierce SK, Curtis NE, Massey SE, Bass AL, Karl SA, Finney CM (2006) A morphological and molecular comparison between Elysia crispata and a new species of kleptoplastic sacoglossan sea slug (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) from the Florida Keys, USA. Molluscan Res 26(1):23–38Google Scholar
- Pierce SK, Curtis NE, Hanten JJ, Boerner SL, Schwartz JA (2007) Transfer, integration and expression of functional nuclear genes between multicellular species. Symbiosis 43:57–64Google Scholar
- Schmitt V, Wägele H (2011) Behavioral adaptations in relation to long-term retention of endosymbiotic chloroplasts in the sea slug Elysia timida (Opistobranchia, Sacoglossa). Thalassas 27(2):225–238Google Scholar
- Wägele H, Deusch O, Händeler K, Martin R, Schmitt V, Christa G, Pinzger B, Gould SB, Dagan T, Klussmann-Kolb A, Martin W (2011) Transcriptomic evidence that longevity of acquired plastids in the photosynthetic slugs Elysia timida and Plakobranchus ocellatus does not entail lateral transfer of algal nuclear genes. Mol Biol Evol 28(1):699–706. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq239 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- West HH (1979) Chloroplast symbiosis and development of the ascoglossan opisthobranch, Elysia chlorotica. (PhD thesis Northeastern Univ) pp 161Google Scholar