2021 Volume 86 Issue 2 Pages 103-107
Sacoglossan sea slugs are able to steal chloroplasts from their algal prey and acquire photosynthetic capacity (termed kleptoplasty). These ‘stolen’ plastids provide sea slugs with a long-term supply of organic carbon and energy. This augmented nutrient supply brings many benefits in terms of survival, body planning, reproductive traits, and body regeneration. However, the mechanisms of maintenance of chloroplasts and photosynthesis in sea slugs are poorly understood. Here, we introduce this mysterious phenomenon, including recent research findings, and consider its feasibility for synthetic biology, e.g., construction of artificial photosynthetic animal cells.