Friday, May 6, 2011

Animal or plant?

Photo: University of South Florida

Today I'd like to give a shout out to one of our amazing sea critters and also to a local professor from the University of South Florida, here in Tampa, both are aces in my book!

I was on the USF website last night looking for a map of the campus, I'm attending an art show reception there this evening that includes my talented friend, Sharon Norwood, and I needed to find the best parking for the Fine Arts Building. While there I ran across an article in the USF News Report that caught my attention. Here's an excerpt:

TAMPA, Fla. (April 27, 2011) – "A graceful, green sea slug which turns sunlight into energy brought USF biology professor Sidney (Skip) Pierce worldwide attention last year… Encyclopedia Britannica recently named Pierce’s research among seven significant discoveries in 2010 in the life sciences section of its iconic Book of the Year for 2011.

The sea slug — Elysia chlorotica, which lives in waters on the east coast of the U.S. and Canada — has been described as part animal and part plant because it produces its own chlorophyll and can carry out photosynthesis, turning sunlight into energy. Pierce worked with postdoctoral researcher Nicholas Curtis and Ph.D. candidate Julie Schwartz and used radioactive tracing techniques to determine the vibrant green creatures are able to manufacture chlorophyll themselves, the first animal ever discovered to be able to this.

Pierce’s study demonstrated that a symbiotic relationship between these animals and chloroplasts from their algal food have resulted in the movement of functional genes, called gene transfer, between the two species. The transferred genes are transmitted to the next generation, so they have become part of the slug’s DNA.

When the discovery was announced last year at a scientific conference in Seattle and then published in the journal Symbiosis, it caused a worldwide sensation."

Pretty cool, don't you think? I also think this slug is pretty cool…

Photographer: Patrick Krug

Doesn't it look like a leaf?

Elysia chlorotica, also called emerald green sea slug, is a species of sea slug  known for its ability to photosynthesize food. It is the only known member of the animal kingdom capable of producing chlorophyll, a pigment found in nearly all photosynthetic plants that use solar energy to transform carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. Members of this species appear as wide, rippling, green leaves with snail-like heads. They inhabit the shallow salt marshes and inlets of North America’s Atlantic coast from Florida to Nova Scotia. Over their 9–10-month life span, they can grow to a length 0.4–2.4 inches. –Encyclopedia Britannica

I don't know about you, but I LOVE learning about critters that live in the ocean and since this year's theme for World Oceans Day is Youth: The Next Wave for Change, I thought those of you with small children might like this book from Cat in the Hat's Learning Library — Wish for a Fish: All About Sea Creatures.

Remember, my World Oceans Day Beach Party is only 33 days away! I hope all of you are planning to attend and are thinking about what you're going to post that day in honor of our oceans. You can click on the link above or on the button near the top of my sidebar to learn more.

Today's Ocean Fact: Scientists estimate that there are at least a million new species to be discovered in the deep oceans.C.O.O.L. Classroom

14 Thoughtful Comments:

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Those are amazing photos!

Loui♥ said...

hi Shelle..
I love those photos!!!
what an interesting..
and quite beautiful..
creature of the sea..
think I'll just print..
and frame them!!
here's my RSVP to your party..
I'll be there!!
warmest sandy hugs..

Lindsay-ann said...

Hi Rhonda
Yes I agree that is the coolest slug I have ever seen. It's amazing. Just looks like a tree leaf.
Have a lovely weekend.

Blondie's Journal said...

Very interesting post, Rhonda! The head really looks like a slug! Amazing!


Della said...

That is the most beautiful slug I've ever seen! I love the leafy green look of this pretty creature.

Enjoy the Art Show!

Big hugs!

Jane said...

How cool! I am always amazed by the creatures in our undersea world. Thanks for sharing these photos and the info. I'm still thinking about the post I will do for your special day...there is so much I love about the sea...EVERYTHING!!!!!!! And your love for it is contagious!

Completely Coastal said...

These are amazing..., and if they can move from A to B (looks like they do) they're animals in my book.

Have a great weekend!

beachcomber said...

cheryl x

RottenMom said...

This is my FAVORITE blog. I learn so much from you every single time I visit here. The slug is beautiful.

Thanks for the comments today on my blog, I laughed so hard at your reply that I nearly choked on my iced tea! I can always count on you to say the right things at the right time.

Thanks for being there for me, through the serious and the silly. XO

michelle said...

This is too cool! I have heard of sea slugs but had no idea of their amazing abilities and they are so beautiful. I hope you had fun at the art show. :)

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

You come up with the neatest things to post about Rhonda!
That creature is truly amazing!
Happy Mother's Day friend,

Gypsea Nurse said...

Awesome post girly!
Now I have to hope over to join the movement...
I am doing Hands Across the Sands here..
But that is later on..
Enjoy your weekend!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I lover these posts! I am always amazed and I always learn something new! And the childrens book looks like FUN! I'll keep an eye out for it! ♥

The Decorative Dreamer said...

Very interesting! Those photo are so cool. Who would have thought a sea slug would be so neat? Thanks for this very informative post about the history of sea slugs. Oh, and I like the emerald green sea slug the best! Very pretty!

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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