Photosynthesis for sea slugs described in an article in Science, vol 313, p1229, 1 September 2006. Sea slugs are shell-less molluscs that eat soft corals. Some sea slugs take in algae from the coral and house them in their digestive glands. Ingo Burghardt of Ruhr University, Germany has studied a genus of sea slugs named Phyllodesmium which hosts microscopic algae named zooanthellae and found they formed a symbiotic relationship where the algae provide food for the sea slug in return for being housed and protected. The algae also make the slugs turn the same colour as the corals and Burghardt suggested that the relationship between slugs and algae started as a means of providing camouflage for the slugs, but it then evolved into a symbiotic relationship and the slugs evolved larger, more complex digestive glands to provide living space for the algae.

A more extraordinary form of symbiosis occurs between a sea slug named Elysia chlorotica and a seaweed named Vaucheria litorea. Scientists at the University of Maine have filmed juvenile sea slugs eating the seaweed and observed them sucking chloroplasts, the complex cellular structures that carry out photosynthesis, out of the algae. In spite of being removed from the plant cells the chloroplasts continue to function inside the sea slug, a “pretty spectacular” phenomenon, according to Margaret McFall-Ngai of the University of Wisconsin, because the chloroplasts need proteins that are normally only made by plant cells to keep functioning.

The University of Maine scientists have found large parts of two plant genes in the DNA of the sea slug. They believe the genes originally came from the seaweed and claim “We are seeing the evolution of photosynthesis in an animal.” If the juvenile sea slugs don’t extract chloroplasts from the seaweed “they don’t make it”.

Editorial Comment Think again! No-one is actually seeing any evolution. No-one has observed seaweed genes begin to move into sea slug DNA, so the belief they did is pure faith. It makes just as much sense to believe that the sea slug always had the genes to make use of chloroplasts, since Genesis states that all creatures started out as vegetarians and in the sea that would limit your diet to mostly algae full of chloroplasts, which is why juvenile sea slugs don’t make it if they don’t get their first shot of algae. What is being seen is an unusual way for an animal to get its food. The research described above indicates that symbiosis in its many forms is a normal part of life, which fits well with The Genesis record of God creating a well functioning world of complete complex life forms. (Ref. ecology, nutrition, diets)

Evidence News 11 October 2006