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Effects of photosynthesis on the survival and weight retention of two kleptoplastic sacoglossan opisthobranchs

  • Shoko Yamamoto (a1), Yayoi M. Hirano (a2), Yoshiaki J. Hirano (a2), Cynthia D. Trowbridge (a3), Ayana Akimoto (a1), Atsushi Sakai (a1) and Yoichi Yusa (a1)...


Many sacoglossan sea slugs utilize chloroplasts ingested from food algae for photosynthesis (functional kleptoplasty), and the extent and duration of kleptoplast retention differs greatly among sacoglossan species. Although most recent studies focus on the genetic, microscopic, or physiological mechanisms responsible for this unique phenomenon, its effects on the life history traits of sacoglossans have not been fully explored. To study the effects of light conditions on survival and weight retention, adult individuals of two sacoglossan species, Elysia trisinuata and Plakobranchus ocellatus (‘black type'), were reared under light conditions (a 14-hour light: 10-hour dark photoperiod with an irradiance level of 28 µmol m−2s−1) or complete darkness for 21 days. There was no significant difference in the survival rate between the light and dark treatments for E. trisinuata, and its wet weight relative to the initial weight was smaller in the light than in the dark. However, both the survival and relative weights were greater in the light than dark for P. ocellatus. Based on the fluorescent yield measurement using pulse-amplitude-modulated fluorometry, the retention duration of functional chloroplasts was longer (>17 days) for P. ocellatus than E. trisinuata (<4 days). These results indicate that P. ocellatus benefits from photosynthesis for survival and growth, whereas E. trisinuata does not under starved conditions. This interspecific difference is likely related to the period of functional chloroplast retention.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Y. Yusa, Faculty of Science, Nara Women's University, Kitauoya-nishi 630-8506, Japan email:


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Effects of photosynthesis on the survival and weight retention of two kleptoplastic sacoglossan opisthobranchs

  • Shoko Yamamoto (a1), Yayoi M. Hirano (a2), Yoshiaki J. Hirano (a2), Cynthia D. Trowbridge (a3), Ayana Akimoto (a1), Atsushi Sakai (a1) and Yoichi Yusa (a1)...


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