tedlistens writes: The idea that aphids may use photosynthesis, as plants do, is based on the recent finding that the bugs are able to synthesize pigments called carotenoids. These pigments are common and necessary for many animals (for non-photosynthesis uses, like maintaining a healthy immune system), but the animal must consume them from outside sources. So far, only plants, algae, fungi, and bacteria are known to be able to synthesize carotenoids themselves, and, in all of those organisms, carotenoids are a key part of photosynthesis. While the co-author of the study, published in Nature's open-access journal Scientific Reports, cautions that more research is needed before we can determine if aphids are photosynthesizing like non-animals, it stil could be one of the more remarkable findings in biology in recent memory, and may hold promise for helping address humanity’s food crisis.
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