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Endosymbioses in Sacoglossan Seaslugs: Plastid-Bearing Animals that Keep Photosynthetic Organelles Without Borrowing Genes

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Endosymbiosis

Abstract

In this chapter, we summarize our knowledge on photosynthesis properties in the enigmatic gastropod group Sacoglossa. Members of this group are able to sequester chloroplasts from their food algae and store them for weeks and months in order to use them in a similar way as plants do.

Only four to five sacoglossan species are able to perform photosynthesis for months, others are less effective or are not able at all. The processes involved are not clear, but we show by this chapter that many factors contribute to the developing of a photosynthetic seaslug. These include extrinsic (environment, origin and properties of the nutrition and the plastids) and intrinsic factors (behaviour, physiological and anatomical properties). Maintenance of plastids is not enhanced by a horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from the algal genome into the slug genome, as was hypothesized for many years. We outline here the questions that now have to be asked and the research that has to be done to understand the factors that actually contribute to this unique metazoan phenomenon, which is not understood at all.

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Acknowledgements

We wish to thank Katharina Händeler (Bonn), Gregor Christa (Bonn), Valerie Schmitt (Düsseldorf), Rainer Martin (Ulm) and Elise Lätz (Bonn) for discussions. The DFG (German Science Foundation) (Wa 618/8, Wa 618/12, SFBTr1) and the ERC (Networkorigins) provided financial support. Information on taxonomic status of algal species were taken from AlgaeBase (Guiry and Guiry 2012) and on sacoglossan species from the Seaslugforum (Rudman 2012) (http://www.seaslugforum.net/; searched on 12 February 2012). We follow the conventions of the International Code of Zoological/Botanical Nomenclature and include names of the authors who described the mentioned species and additionally cite the original work.

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Wägele, H., Martin, W.F. (2014). Endosymbioses in Sacoglossan Seaslugs: Plastid-Bearing Animals that Keep Photosynthetic Organelles Without Borrowing Genes. In: Löffelhardt, W. (eds) Endosymbiosis. Springer, Vienna. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-7091-1303-5_14

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