Illumination Extend the Survival Time of The Sea Slug Retaining Chloroplasts Under Starvation

Plakobranchus ocellatus retains functional chloroplasts in the digestive gland (kleptoplasty). In the long starvation experiment, the photosynthetic function of the chloroplasts was almost normal for 2 months, regardless of the presence or absence of illumination, and then gradually decreased. Although the relative weight of the animal gradually decreased from the beginning of the experiment without illumination, the decrease of relative weight appeared slow or unclear during the first 2 months in the experiment with illumination and the sea slugs survived up to 5 months, suggesting that photosynthesis in the retained chloroplasts could maintain the sea slug for months under starvation. The retention of chloroplasts may be important for P. ocellatus to occur throughout the year in a subtropical environment.

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