Klepto-what? Kleptoplast!

New Scientist has a report describing a species of sea-slug that is able to incorporate the chloroplasts from algae it eats. The end result is an animal capable of photosynthesis.


Chloroplasts by themselves are not self-sufficient; they do contain some DNA, but only enough to encode for about a tenth of the proteins needed for their ongoing survival. So where does the rest of the genetic info come from once the chloroplast has been ingested by the slug?

Well, it appears that the slug itself contains plant genes. These genes, happily, are the very ones necessary for sustaining functional chloroplasts.

More here.

(via i09.com)

More ice on Mars than first thought

The first sentence of this article at Scientific American says it all:

“The more we learn about Mars, it seems, the icier the Red Planet appears to be.”


The piece concludes by pointing out that this water could be used to yeild both oxygen to breathe and hydrogen for fuel if the abundant solar energy falling on the planet’s lower latitudes can be harnessed.

Wired’s Top 10 Biology Videos

This is great and well worth a look:


I got a chuckle out of the shrimp on the treadmill…

First, the bad news

The just-released Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund – which details humanity’s ecological footprint – has drawn an alarming conclusion: left unchecked, our current standard of living will require an extra planet to sustain us by 2030.

The demands on our planet’s resources are clearly unsustainable. And this is not a long term issue; it is happening here and now. The average year 7 student will be my age by then. From our species’ perspective, this is right around the corner.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Importantly, there are plenty of things we can do to help. Some of the links below will get you started:

World Wildlife Fund

Australian Conservation Foundation

Adventure Ecology

Sustainability Victoria

Taking IT Global


Every little bit we do to reduce your impact on the demand for non-renewable resources is important. The organisations above are all able to provide useful, practical advice to live more sustainably.

Did you miss me?

Been gone a while. Looking forward to getting this thing moving again.

Stick around.