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First evidence for photosynthesis in insects

18 Août 2012 , Rédigé par JMB Publié dans #Actualités-News

Aphids may have a rudimentary sunlight-harvesting system.

Author: Kathryn Lougheed, 17 August 2012, Nature News 

SIMON-FRASER-SCIENCE-PHOTO-LIBRARY-Aphids.jpgThe biology of aphids is bizarre: they can be born pregnant and males sometimes lack mouths, causing them to die not long after mating. In an addition to their list of anomalies, work published this week indicates that they may also capture sunlight and use the energy for metabolic purposes.

Aphids (photo: Simon Fraser/Science photo library) are unique among animals in their ability to synthesize pigments called carotenoids. Many creatures rely on these pigments for a variety of functions, such as maintaining a healthy immune system and making certain vitamins, but all other animals must obtain them through their diet. Entomologist Alain Robichon at the Sophia Agrobiotech Institute in Sophia Antipolis, France, and his colleagues suggest that, in aphids, these pigments can absorb energy from the Sun and transfer it to the cellular machinery involved in energy production.

Although unprecedented in animals, this capability is common in other kingdoms. Plants and algae, aswell as certain fungi and bacteria, also synthesize carotenoids, and in all of these organisms the pigments form part of the photosynthetic machinery.

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