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Tiny Green Bug May Be First Photosynthetic Animal

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#1

Pea aphids may have an unprecedented ability to harvest sunlight, and use the energy for metabolic purposes. It would make it the only species of animal known to have photosynthesis-like powers.

It comes down to carotenoids, which are a type of pigment used in animals for crucial functions like vision, bone growth and vitamin production. All known animals obtain these by eating the plants, algae and fungi that naturally synthesize the orange-red compounds.
Back in 2010, University of Arizona biologists researcher Nancy Moran and Tyler Jarvik discovered that pea aphids can make their own carotenoids, like a plant. “What happened is a fungal gene got into an aphid and was copied,”said Moran in a press release.


Entomologist Alain Robichon, of the Sophia Agrobiotech Institute in France, wanted to find out why the insects make such metabolically expensive chemicals.

Carotenoids are responsible for aphid body color, and the researchers found that insects changed color depending on environmental conditions. In optimal environments, aphids make a medium amount of carotenoids and come out orange. In the cold, the insects have a high level of carotenoids and are green. In areas with limited resources, aphids are almost devoid of the pigment and are born white.

The team then measured the aphids’ levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) — a way to measure energy transfer in living organisms — and received striking results. Green aphids make significantly more ATP than white ones, and orange aphids made more ATP while exposed to sunlight than when kept in the dark.

The researchers also crushed the orange aphids and purified their carotenoids, to demonstrate that it was these extracts that could absorb light and pass this energy on. This all suggests that the synthesized pigments may contribute to a system of photo-induced electron transfer, where the aphids can harness energy from the sunlight.

The team warns that more research will be needed before we can be sure that aphids truly have photosynthesis-like abilities. The researchers also speculate that the ability might be used as a back-up, during times of environmental stress
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/green-aphid-photosynthesis/
 

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#2
I wonder where they live. Aphids are a serious problem in the midwest of the USA.
 
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#3
"Problem" is subjective. The aphids were there long before the cornfields.
 
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#4
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#5
And the cornfields feed u... so.. no
Though corn contains no nutritional benefit. One wonders why we consume it...*ponders*...

Short story: I once had a pure can sugar Pepsi from Thailand. The reason pure can sugar isn't used more often is because it isn't nearly as abundant as corn syrup is. I'm sure the way corn is subsidized doesn't help much either.

Pretty interesting post OP. Good find.
 

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#6
inb4 gene therapy dieting fad where people survive off sunlight alone (and turn transparent)
 

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#7
Though corn contains no nutritional benefit. One wonders why we consume it...*ponders*...

Short story: I once had a pure can sugar Pepsi from Thailand. The reason pure can sugar isn't used more often is because it isn't nearly as abundant as corn syrup is. I'm sure the way corn is subsidized doesn't help much either.

Pretty interesting post OP. Good find.
Most people prefer the taste of HFCS over sugar. Sugar is also more expensive (usually).
 
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#8

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#9
inb4 gene therapy dieting fad where people survive off sunlight alone (and turn transparent)
Have you seen many PC users? most are already pale enough to get sunlight straight through;)
 

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#10
Have you seen many PC users? most are already pale enough to get sunlight straight through;)
they'd starve to death, no sunlight in nerdville.
 

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#11
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#12
This is cool stuff. I find it interesting how they got the gene from a mold.
 
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#13
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#14
Have you seen many PC users? most are already pale enough to get sunlight straight through;)
*Looks at myself*

Nope, still dark brown.
 

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#15

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#16
Need sauce on first sentence. For science.

Serious.
Mountain Dew vs Mounten Dew Throwback
Pepsi vs Pepsi Throwback

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/pepsi-taste-test_n_1327579.html
Our team of editors recently conducted another taste test, this time between Pepsi (with HFCS) and Pepsi Throwback (with sugar). We fully expected Pepsi Throwback to come out on top, just like Mexican Coke. Surprisingly, we were wrong.

Twenty editors blind taste-tested the two colas, side by side, and found ...
•50 percent of our tasters could tell the difference between regular Pepsi and Pepsi Throwback.
•55 percent of our tasters preferred regular Pepsi to Pepsi Throwback.
American taste buds have adapted to the flavor of HFCS in iconic food items. When we taste those products, we expect the HFCS flavor, not sugar. We don't like change.
 
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#17
Mountain Dew vs Mounten Dew Throwback
Pepsi vs Pepsi Throwback

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/pepsi-taste-test_n_1327579.html

American taste buds have adapted to the flavor of HFCS in iconic food items. When we taste those products, we expect the HFCS flavor, not sugar. We don't like change.
Interesting tangent you guys went onto in this thread. Well when in Rome... I prefer sugar over hfcs personally. Americans can switch back to sugar if they so wanted. Just needs a media blitz and celebrities to make it fashionable.
 
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#18
Mountain Dew vs Mounten Dew Throwback
Pepsi vs Pepsi Throwback

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/pepsi-taste-test_n_1327579.html

American taste buds have adapted to the flavor of HFCS in iconic food items. When we taste those products, we expect the HFCS flavor, not sugar. We don't like change.
Is the 55 percent that preferred HFCS of the 50 percent that could tell the difference? It would have to be if only 50 percent could tell the difference; you can't prefer one over the other if you can't tell the difference.

Also, the Pepsi Throwback used cane and beet sugar, but this article states that people prefer the taste of cane sugar over beet sugar:

San Francisco Chronicle

The Pepsi I tried was pure cane sugar. I'd be interested to see the study conducted again with the HFCS Pepsi against a pure cane sugar Pepsi.

Also, on the note of not liking change...lol, given the current President's candidacy rode on the back of "change".
 

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#19
10/20 thought they didn't taste the same
11/20 said they prefer HFCS

Try it yourself. They only did a sample size of 20. :p


People say they want "change" all the time (think of all the changes people want to Windows Vista/7/8) but when change actually happens (all three changed something major), people resent the fact it isn't the same. It's human nature and that played out in Obama's presidency too (once people saw what his flavor of "change" really was, they don't like it).
 
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#20
Aren't there also slugs that eat plankton and absorb the photosynthesis genes? I thought I read about that years ago.
 
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#21
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#22
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#23
10/20 thought they didn't taste the same
11/20 said they prefer HFCS

Try it yourself. They only did a sample size of 20. :p


People say they want "change" all the time (think of all the changes people want to Windows Vista/7/8) but when change actually happens (all three changed something major), people resent the fact it isn't the same. It's human nature and that played out in Obama's presidency too (once people saw what his flavor of "change" really was, they don't like it).
I know you didn't conduct the study, but that doesn't make any sense.

It's technically incorrect to say that 10/20 thought they tasted the same because the study says that number of people "could tell the difference". I read the study a couple times to make sure I hadn't missed anything (explicit or implied). To further ground this point, "Pepsi makes no such claim" as to them tasting the same (Pepsi and Pepsi Throwback). I'll gladly "Doh!" if you can point out where it said people thought they tasted the same.

Also, I really seem to be missing how 11/20 can prefer one over the other if only 10/20 could tell the difference...if you can't tell the difference, you can't prefer anything; that is to say, you're just flipping a mental coin.
 
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#24
11+10=21
 
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#25