Scientists say they’ve found evidence suggesting that the insect ( Acyrthosiphon pisum) traps light to produce adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the cellular energy currency that powers biochemical reactions. Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. (For animals, cells typically convert energy from food into ATP, while plants make ATP via photosynthesis.) When researchers measured the ATP levels in the three groups of aphids, they found that the green ones made significantly more ATP than white aphids. A certain species of sea slug can steal photosynthetic DNA from algae, but animals don't photosynthesize on their own. (For animals, cells typically convert energy from food into ATP, while plants make ATP via photosynthesis.). Does that mean that pea aphids photosynthesize? Each female produces 50 to 100 young…. What's more, orange aphids produced more ATP when exposed to sunlight than when moved into the dark, according to the study results detailed this month in the journal Scientific Reports. We're also on Facebook & Google+. It overwinters on clover and alfalfa, migrating to peas in spring. Their antennae are 1.0-1.6 times as long as the body. This suggests that the pigments may be part of a system of photo-induced electron transfer that enables aphids to synthesize energy from sunlight. Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. Abstract: The pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) is a cosmopolitan and polyphagous species. The researchers also crushed the orange aphids and purified their carotenoids to show that these extracts could absorb light and create energy. The team said further investigation was needed to confirm their results and answer why these sap-sucking animals would need to make energy from sunlight. Robichon studied different colored aphids of the species: green aphids, which contain high levels of carotenoids and are born in colder lab conditions; orange aphids, which are born in optimal lab conditions; and white aphids, which contain little to no carotenoid pigment and are born when resources are limited. They're also the only animal that has been identified that can synthesize carotenoids, the pigments that appear in chloroplasts and chromoplasts that harness solar energy for use by the cells. A tiny insect called the pea aphid might be one of the only animals to turn sunlight into energy like a plant. At least that's what we thought. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Pea Aphid - Acyrthosiphon pisum The pea aphid takes advantage of its food source for photosynthetic powers as well as our first two organisms, but it doesn’t make use of chloroplasts. Carotenoids are metabolically expensive chemicals to synthesize, prompting Alain Robichon, an entomologist at the Sophia Agrobiotech Institute, to wonder what purpose the carotenoids serve. An evaluation of A. pisum’s demographic parameters and growth was carried out after rearing aphids on faba bean plants (Vicia faba) under five di erent temperature conditions (10 C, 15 C, 20 C, 25 C and 30 C). All rights reserved. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote! Aphids reproduce by parthenogenesis and can be born pregnant, though males (who sometimes lack mouths) are born in colder weather. Identification & Distribution: Acyrthosiphon pisum apterae (first image below) are pale green or pink with red eyes. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Published: 08/21/2012 11:44 AM EDT on LiveScience. In 2010, Yale entomologist Nancy Moran discovered that aphids possess the gene for synthesizing carotenoids, meaning that the pigment is "home grown" rather than lifted from another photosynthetic species. Previous research found that aphids got this pigment-producing power after swapping genes with fungi, and now the new study suggests these carotenoids might be behind the aphid's apparent photosynthesis-like abilities. Plants, algae, and bacteria have a clear advantage over the animal kingdom when it comes to their powers of photosynthesis. ©2020 Verizon Media. The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) can harness light to manufacture the energy-rich compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP); this ability has been linked to the aphid’s manufacture of carotenoid pigments. the first animal discovered to produce chlorophyll, Gallery: Dazzling Photos of Dew-Covered Insects, No Creepy Crawlies Here: Gallery of the Cutest Bugs. The pea aphid is a model organism for biological study whose genome has been sequenced and annotated.

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