Sea hare turns algal pigment toxic to ward off crabs and other predators
One beastie’s pigment is another’s poison. The marine-dwelling sea hare converts pigment from its food into a chemical weapon, a new study shows.
It is the first description of an animal taking photosynthetic pigment from its diet and turning it into a molecule that can wield off would-be attackers, researchers report in an upcoming issue of Animal Behaviour.
Some animals create noxious chemicals by building them in-house from bits of protein, others order toxins to-go, such as monarch caterpillars that eat poisonous milkweed plants, becoming poisonous to predatory birds in the process. But performing slight alterations to turn a benign algae pigment into a toxic com