Some plants can live in animals


06/04/2011

Researchers have discovered a unique and rather strange specimen plants living inside the animal. A research team from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, revealed that a green alga invades the salamander embryo cells during early development of the amphibian.

This is the first documented case where the plant lives in a partnership, or symbiosis with the vertebrates. Even more surprising is that, on the assumptions of researchers, salamanders algae inherited from their parents. The analysis was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It was already known that green algae live in the eggs of amphibians species Ambystoma maculatum or spotted salamander, which is very common in North America. Despite the fact that these appear from salamanders land for hunting and reproduction, they lay their eggs in a translucent ponds, where they are retained on the surface. This creates a perfect sunny and secure environment for the development of algae.

"Eggs are really green, as in egg capsules are algae" - explained Dr. Ryan Kearney (Ryan Kerney) from Dalhousie University, who led the research. "Algae in the capsule eggs provide the necessary oxygen to the fetus, and in return receive waste embryos, which are rich in nitrogen, is very important for plants."

Although these relationships of plants and vertebrates has been known for more than a century, scientists did not understand how the algae got into the egg. Considering the salamander under a fluorescence microscope, the researchers were able to examine the algae pigments, which sparkled when they were illuminated by light of wavelength.

Prior to this, many scientists did not suspect that the plants can live in the cells of vertebrates. This group of complex animals, which includes fish, birds, reptiles and mammals (like humans), has a very specialized immune system, which should not allow these alien organisms live in our cells.

"We also found algae DNA in the reproductive organs of adult salamanders, so there seems to be a fact of inheritance is possible" - said Dr. Kearney. "We call this phenomenon of vertical transmission, but there is probably a mixture of the phenomenon and the uptake of algae from the environment." Dr. Kearney added the following: "So many new discoveries in biology comes from studies in the tropics. I think it points to something that costs more closely examine our native species. They can still surprise us great."

Original: BBC Translation: M. Potter


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