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Holly Moeller in the lab

Organelle Snatchers

WHOI postdoctoral fellow Holly Moeller investigated a curious single-celled marine organism with a remarkable ability to behave both like an animal and a plant. The organism, called Mesodinium rubrum, typically graze on algae, like an animal. But they can also steal organelles from algae they eat, incorporating the algae’s nuclei and chloroplasts inside their own cells. Using those organelles, M. rubrum can perform photosynthesis to make food, like a plant. Moeller and WHOI biologist Matt Johnson study this metabolic strategy, which is called acquired phototrophy. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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