Thursday, 23 August 2012

Light-Trapping Bug Acts Like Plant

A tiny insect called the pea aphid might be one of the only animals to turn sunlight into energy like a plant.

Scientists say they've found evidence suggesting that the insect (Acyrthosiphon pisum) traps light to produce adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the cellular energy currency that powers biochemical reactions. (For animals, cells typically convert energy from food into ATP, while plants make ATP via photosynthesis.)

Aphids are already remarkable in the animal world, because they produce their own carotenoids, pigments usually produced by plants, fungi and microorganisms that can act as antioxidants when consumed by humans. Previous research found that aphids got this pigment-producing power after swapping genes with fungi, and now the new study suggests these carotenoids might be behind the aphid's apparent photosynthesis-like abilities.

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