We know how plants harness energy from the sun to drive food production by means of photosynthesis. This process helps them convert the sun’s energy to make organic compound like glucose from carbon dioxide and water. Despite all the research and development human have been able to harness the Sun’s energy by means of solar panels converting solar energy to electrical energy with an efficiency level of only 35%, yet plants are able to accomplish the same process and result at an astounding efficiency of about 90% through the first stages of photosynthesis.
However, as astonishing phenomenon has been found in Sea slugs, Elysia Chlorotica. These little creatures have taken the task of harnessing solar energy to a different level all together. These sea slugs found in the intertidal zone between Nova Scotia , Canada and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and as well as Florida feed on brown algae, Vaucheria litorea. Astonishing is the fact that these slugs are able to store the alga plastids in the inner lining of their gut and the slug actually become photosynthetic. It doesn’t stop here these emerald green slugs are capable of stealing the DNA from the algae and process photosynthesis within their body and are capable of maintaining the process for as long as nine months which incidentally happens to be longer than the algae can maintain the same structure. Remarkable is that the sea slugs are able to pass some of this characteristics to the next generation as well. It is a phenomenon akin to having a solar panel attached to a living body.
By: Madhuchanda Saxena