Sea slug steals genes for greens, makes chlorophyll like a plant

Animal shown to manufacture a key photosynthetic compound

2:38pm, January 10, 2010

SEATTLE — It’s easy being green for a sea slug that has stolen enough genes to become the first animal shown to make chlorophyll like a plant.

Shaped like a leaf itself, the slug Elysia chlorotica already has a reputation for kidnapping the photosynthesizing organelles and some genes from algae. Now it turns out that the slug has acquired enough stolen goods to make an entire plant chemical-making pathway work inside an animal body, says Sidney K. Pierce of the University of South Florida in Tampa.

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