Chloroplast digestion and the development of functional kleptoplasty in juvenile Elysia timida (leRisso, 1818) as compared to short-term and non-chloroplast-retaining sacoglossan slugs

Elise Marie Jerschabek Laetz*, Heike Waegele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Sacoglossan sea slugs are the only metazoans known to perform functional kleptoplasty, the sequestration and retention of functional chloroplasts within their digestive gland cells. Remarkably, a few species with this ability can survive starvation periods of 3-12 months likely due to their stolen chloroplasts. There are no reports of kleptoplast transfer from mother slug to either eggs or juveniles, demonstrating that each animal must independently acquire its kleptoplasts and develop the ability to maintain them within its digestive gland. We present here an investigation into the development of functional kleptoplasty in a long-term kleptoplast retaining species, Elysia timida. Laboratory-reared juvenile slugs of different post-metamorphic ages were placed in starvation and compared to 5 known short-term retaining slug species and 5 non-retaining slug species. The subsequent results indicate that functional kleptoplasty is not performed by E. timida until after 15 days post-metamorphosis and that by 25 days, these animals outlive many of the short-term retention species. Digestive activity was also monitored using lysosomal abundance as an indicator, revealing different patterns in starving juveniles versus adults. Starved juveniles were reintroduced to food to determine any differences in digestive activity when starvation ends, resulting in an increase in the number of kleptoplasts, but no overall change in lysosomal activity. By revealing some of the changes that occur during early development in these animals, which begin as non-kleptoplast-retaining and grow into long-term retaining slugs, this investigation provides a basis for future inquiries into the origin and development of this remarkable ability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0182910
Number of pages23
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11-Oct-2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • SEA SLUG
  • PHOTOSYNTHETIC PRODUCTS
  • SYMBIOTIC CHLOROPLASTS
  • MUCUS SYNTHESIS
  • OPISTHOBRANCHIA
  • MOLLUSCA
  • RETENTION
  • LONGEVITY
  • CRISPATA
  • SURVIVAL

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