Aphids are able to synthesize pigments called carotenoids. (Photo : Shipher Wu and Gee-way Lin/Wiki Commons)
A new species of insect have shown to feature unique characteristics such as automatically born pregnant, lacking mouths, and the ability to have a trait similar to plants.
The aphids have been studied to capture sunlight and use it for energy for metabolic purposes; this process is similar to photosynthesis, a common act among plant life.
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The aphids are able to synthesize a pigment called carotenoids. The pigment helps the insects with their immune system and for vitamins. The finding is important as there isn't any other animal capable to produce its own carotenoids.
The study was led by entomologist Alan Robichon from the Sophia Agrobiotech Institute in France. Robichon and fellow scientists went out to figure out why insects are capable of making the energy into chemicals.
The pigmentation for the aphids has also helped the insect camouflage itself from predators. Studies in the entomologist's lab showed aphids to turn orange under optimal condition, green in cold weather, and white when facing limited resources due to an influx of aphids.
Scientists studied the substance that transports chemical energy to the metabolic cells, known as ATP, on the aphids. The green aphids have been recorded to have more carotenoids than the other colored aphids therefore having the most ATP. When an aphid is placed in the direction of light, it is capable of producing more ATP, however, at night the results were the opposite and lost energy.
Unfortunately for some aphids, scientists crushed a number of them during the experiment to determine if their carotenoids were in fact responsible for absorbing light. This part of the experiment confirmed carotenoids assisted in the energy process for the pea-sized insect.
According to Mother Nature Network, the scientists noted they need more time before declaring the insects are definitely photosynthetic.