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First Evidence That Some Insects May Rely On Photosynthesis

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the here-comes-the-sun dept.

Science 107

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 still 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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Another quality slashdot article on science! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051425)

It goes from "correlation equals causation" to " promise for helping address humanity's food crisis" in one paragraph!

Re:Another quality slashdot article on science! (5, Insightful)

XiaoMing (1574363) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051539)

Considering how the peer-reviewed journal Nature ranks sixth overall [wikipedia.org] in terms of impact factor, my guess is that there's more to the publication (and TFA) than your summary of it suggests.

Re:Another quality slashdot article on science! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051775)

Bullshit. If you read that actual Nature paper, summarized:

We report here that the capture of light energy in living aphids results in the photo induced electron transfer from excited chromophores to acceptor molecules. ...

This appears as an archaic photosynthetic system consisting of photo-emitted electrons that are in fine funnelled into the mitochondrial reducing power in order to synthesize ATP molecules.

The Nature paper doesn't talk about solving humanity's food crisis. Mother Board sort of half-assedly makes that claim by mentioning a food crisis and then saying that this doesn't solve it--yet. Nature wouldn't be that stupid to make such a dubious claim.

The GPs criticism is valid.

Re:Another quality slashdot article on science! (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year and a half ago | (#41057475)

Dammit. I was ready to start selling aphid-burgers to starving third-world kids and now you say it won't save the world? What am I going to do with the 30,000 lbs of aphids I ordered after reading only the summary?

Re:Another quality slashdot article on science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052741)

Impact factor is overrated (and this is an understatement).

Re:Another quality slashdot article on science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41055601)

Considering how space stories usually go from "we have pictures of rocks" to " we'll build space elevators and colonize the universe", it's not that bad. At least this story tries to solve an actual problem that exists right now for people here, instead of hypothetical solutions to non-existent problems.

You mean... little green men may help? (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051449)

TFS

and may hold promise for helping address humanity's food crisis

I imagine the ultimate solution would be to literally transform part of the human population into vegetables... able to absorb CO2, feed themselves in the Sun light and be happy no matter what the govts do to exploit them (+ be actually grateful for being pissed on).
Maybe, in the first stage, FauxNews can help?

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (2, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051489)

I imagine the ultimate solution would be to literally transform part of the human population into vegetables...

Are you saying we should spike the water supply with LSD?

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051505)

I imagine the ultimate solution would be to literally transform part of the human population into vegetables...

Are you saying we should spike the water supply with LSD?

Nah, LSD may be too expensive... I reckon FauxNews have the same effect with the advantage of being a private business (the Free Market God be praised).

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41056513)

That would have the opposite effect. LSD tends to wake people up from their stupor by dissolving assumptions and ego.

Booze or marijuana would be better choices for what you have in mind.

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (2)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051529)

Don't forget the other F-word, F*book. Then we'll have hordes of literal couch potatoes.

A seriously evil application of this would be to design herds of cows that don't need to eat grass.

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051577)

Don't forget the other F-word, F*book. Then we'll have hordes of literal couch potatoes.

A seriously evil application of this would be to design herds of cows that don't need to eat grass.

Speaking of F-words and photosynthesis-able cows: a huge boon if the cows are still able to produce methane - reduces the need of fracking.

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052427)

Don't forget the other F-word, F*book. Then we'll have hordes of literal couch potatoes.

A seriously evil application of this would be to design herds of cows that don't need to eat grass.

Speaking of F-words and photosynthesis-able cows: a huge boon if the cows are still able to produce methane - reduces the need of fracking.

Fracking cows!

Joe just covered himself up in the garden. He is watching tv and we think he is going to bud.

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051593)

Then teach them to want to be eaten, then English so they can express exactly that and then we are all set. :)

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051929)

I imagine the ultimate solution would be to literally transform part of the human population into vegetables

This would be exciting for me, as a vegetarian I fully support this motion to transform the rest of the population into carrots.

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052575)

This would be exciting for me, as a vegetarian I fully support this motion to transform the rest of the population into carrots.

Well, I'm restless... so I should be safe then?

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41053169)

This would be exciting for me, as a vegetarian I fully support this motion to transform the rest of the population into carrots.

Read on a little further: "and be happy no matter what the govts do to exploit them (+ be actually grateful for being pissed on)."

The motion is for government to turn people to vegetables so it's easier to rule over them. The government, not you (or are you implying you're a wannabe tyrant), decide who to turn.

Governments will probably turn vegetarians first, since they're picky eaters (you're suppose to eat whatever government gives you!)

So you'll be turned into a vegetable first, and not one for human consumption mind you. No, you'll be turned into animal feed, ending up as a cow pie somewhere (the cow then becomes delicious delicious meat for the ruling elite)

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052239)

Soylent Greens?

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052313)

So we hire the trolls from Troll 2?

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#41053637)

> and may hold promise for helping address humanity's food crisis

It's aphids! Soylent green is made out of aphids!

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41054301)

TFS

and may hold promise for helping address humanity's food crisis

I imagine the ultimate solution would be to literally transform part of the human population into vegetables... able to absorb CO2, feed themselves in the Sun light and be happy no matter what the govts do to exploit them (+ be actually grateful for being pissed on). Maybe, in the first stage, FauxNews can help?

It sounds like a new version of Soylent Green. And they probably would be green too.

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (1)

postofreason (1305523) | about a year and a half ago | (#41055119)

Literally...figuratively, figuratively speaking, what's the difference? We have LOTS of human vegetables already. (many of them in public office.)

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41057073)

You've got it backwards.

Fox News is against Social Security.

Re:You mean... little green men may help? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#41058027)

I imagine the ultimate solution would be to literally transform part of the human population into vegetables...

I really don't think we could cope with that many politicians.

What food crisis? (5, Insightful)

NalosLayor (958307) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051451)

No, seriously. There is no food crisis. As a species we have a food distribution problem, and a food wastage problem and they're rather shocking at that, but we really have no issue with feeding the population of earth today without resorting to eating genetically modified photosynthetic aphids. Now, a long term lack of motor fuel, is a problem, but aphids don't really solve that either. Mind you, this is scientifically interesting, but there really is no need to tie every technically interesting scientific discovery to the end of the world. Believe it or not, some of us like science for science's own sake.

Re:What food crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051477)

If you're able to increase food production in key areas that do not get food distribution, then it does help.

I'm stretching, of course. Another alternative interpretation is that the author is taking a bleak view of human population growth, or imagining that even with currently projected population levels we hit an ecological collapse point with current methods.

Re:What food crisis? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051517)

No, seriously. There is no food crisis. As a species we have a food distribution problem, and a food wastage problem and they're rather shocking at that, but we really have no issue with feeding the population of earth today ...

There are too many people now, and we have no control over our own global population growth. Arguing that there is currently no food crisis, but rather a distribution problem is specious.

Re:What food crisis? (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051677)

There are too many people now

No, there's plenty of room [persquaremile.com] and we can feed them (to the extent that we don't put food into our gas tanks, anyhow).

and we have no control over our own global population growth

Education - it works every time it's tried. Parts of Europe are so 'successful' that their populations are shrinking. There are States that repress their people, but we'll get those dealt with one of these centuries.

Arguing that there is currently no food crisis, but rather a distribution problem is specious.

Or accurate, if you care to examine the data.

Re:What food crisis? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052067)

Yep, there's that denial again. The Earth is full, and it cannot sustain the current human population. It's not just about food consumption, it's about water, energy, pollution, and the destruction of non-renewable natural resources such as rain forests and glaciers.

You can educate people all you want and draw tautological bullseyes around declining populations after the fact in a vain attempt to prove the hypothesis that we can cause populations to decline at will, but in the end you will be forced to conclude that the global population is increasing and the only things that will reduce it are running out of food, out of fresh water, a global pandemic, a meteor strike, or world war 3.

Again, arguing that there is currently no food crisis but rather that all we're dealing with is a food distribution problem is specious. Humans are, for all practical purposes, no different from bacteria in a petri dish. As a species, we seek to consume available resources until there are no more, just like all other known organisms.

Re:What food crisis? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052327)

This is Malthusian nonsense. The problem is not that there's too many people; that's a first world way to blame the mismanagement of resources on third world countries.

Re:What food crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052625)

It's not a space-per-capita issue. It's fresh water per capita and arable land for agricultre per capita issue (ok, and a distribution issue too).

Soon to be exacerbated by "it's getting hard to mine phosphorus" issue too.

Re:What food crisis? (4, Informative)

TimmyDee (713324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052853)

I made that infographic you posted above (the one where you said there'd be plenty of room), and your claim isn't exactly true. You obviously didn't see my follow up infographic [persquaremile.com] , showing that we'd all have to live lifestyles somewhat less resource intensive than the average Chinese person.

Simply having enough space to cram people isn't everything.

Re:What food crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41057617)

So, you're saying that there is enough room for everyone on Earth, we just need to change our resource usage. Or if we can increase our resource usage efficiency by a factor of 4, the entire world can live like the US.

Re:What food crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41058131)

Nonetheless, the rate of population increase has been steadily slowing, which means that even in absence of external factors like famine, global population will peak and then decline. To see decrease in rate from global statistics, check how long it takes to add one billion more humans, and see how it actually takes bit longer now, even though one billion is smaller relative increase. This is caused by reduction in birth rates EVERYWHERE where economical situation has improved, which happens to be the majority of the globe.

For more rational explanation on how this seems to work out, read the Rational Optimist. It makes one wonder what exactly is the human mind's handicap in strongly favoring alarmistic prophecies over actual analysis, and learning from both past and current trends.

Re:What food crisis? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41054361)

No, seriously. There is no food crisis. As a species we have a food distribution problem, and a food wastage problem and they're rather shocking at that, but we really have no issue with feeding the population of earth today ...

There are too many people now, and we have no control over our own global population growth.

Population growth is entirely in the developing world, where there is high infant and youth mortality. If you know your child will have only a 1 in 3 chance of surviving to adulthood, you have half a dozen babies just to make sure. This pattern has repeated itself all over the world: as mortality goes down, population growth slows down. Once you have 90+% child survival, you get two-ish child families that sustain, but do not grow, the population. The paradoxical fact of the matter is, when more babies surve, you have stable populations.

Arguing that there is currently no food crisis, but rather a distribution problem is specious.

Absolutely not; it's the plain truth. Alleging that there is a "food crisis" is ridiculous. We know what types of food are needed and we know how to grow those types of food. We do not need new sources of food. We need to figure out how to get the foods we already produce to the people who need them.

Re:What food crisis? (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051523)

there really is no need to tie every technically interesting scientific discovery to the end of the world. Believe it or not, some of us like science for science's own sake.

It's standard for writing non-fiction to tie your subject to something of wider importance. It's certainly done in scientific papers. Even people who like science for science's sake are interested in what the big picture may be. Very often, the big picture is totally different from the one that was expected, but it's still interesting.

Re:What food crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051699)

It's not clear whether tedlistens is suggesting that we should eat aphids, or that we should use attempt to create photosynthesizing humans, or something else. Given the uncertainty, the statement is *not* interesting.

Re:What food crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052243)

Ah, true. But there is a big difference between a wider importance for science, or a wider importance for society. The last may still be worth while to mention, the trouble is (and I say this from personal in-the-field experience) is that connections are made that are totally unrealistic.

For example: I am studying enzyme X, this plays a role in photosynthesis, therefore I am going to solve the world food problem. This is wrong on so many levels that it certainly does not help people get the big picture. It is overly speculative that may come back to bite you when people realize it for what it is.

Re:What food crisis? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051773)

What lack of motor fuel. we really have not issue with motor fuel. As a species we have a foot distribution problem, an mussle wastage problem, and its rather shocking at that. We really have not problem with the population walking to work or working from home. People can live near where they work/the work can setup near where the workers live.

Natural if its the existing way of life your trying to preserve in lets say North america then you might have a point. But since that seems to be having an adverce effect on the health of the economy, the individual and the environment, independent of the costs, distortion of foreign policy and trade deficit.

Re:What food crisis? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052115)

I get it, it's like the serious point made above, only stupid and ill-informed.

Re:What food crisis? (5, Interesting)

Troed (102527) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052021)

Exactly.

"According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past several decades."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_security [wikipedia.org]

Re:What food crisis? (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052111)

"According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past several decades."

Unfortunately, so has the average waist size.

I don't think most of the "increased food production" is ending up on the right plates.

Re:What food crisis? (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#41054169)

I did not follow your link, so I do not know if this was pointed out in it or not. In the 1960s, the per capita caloric intake of developing nations was around 300-600 calories a day. In the early 2000s that had risen so that the per capita caloric intake throughout the developing world was around 2500 calories a day. That means that there is not a "food crisis". That does not mean that there are not still hungry people in the world. It just means that we have the means to feed them, we just fail to do so.

Re:What food crisis? (3, Insightful)

darkfeline (1890882) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052195)

Not entirely true (though I do agree with you mostly, honest!). Distribution is costly (a basic logistical problem), both in terms of time, money, and quality of food, and in some cases plainly impossible for the near future (If you ever wondered why food is so expensive in e.g. ski lodges, this is (part of) the reason). On-site production will always trump improved distribution where possible. Yes, we do have a food distribution problem, but we also have a food production problem as well.

Re:What food crisis? (0)

biodata (1981610) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052717)

This is not really true. If the first world we waste about a quarter of our food and in the developing world a similar proportion is lost to pests and diseases, but population is growing exponentially, so even if we stopped the waste, it wouldn't help us for long. We have previously increased food production to keep pace with population growth by a) irrigation b) fertilisers c) plant breeding d) destroying rainforest. a) is a problem because large parts of the world are running out of water, and consuming non-replaceable aquifers to irrigate crops. This is only going to get worse. b) is almost entirely based on consumption of fossil fuels, so gets more expensive and damaging all the time. c) has been successsful since the 1950s but although we continue to breed potentially 'better' more productive crops, the farm-gate productivity has been stalled for about a decade, so we may be reaching some other limit like what the soil can support. d) is self-limiting and only makes the water crisis worse. We really do have some deep seated and intractable food security problems, and it is not just about distribution. A global switch to vegetarianism would help stave off the problems for a couple more decades.

Re:What food crisis? (1)

jbengt (874751) | about a year and a half ago | (#41057565)

. . . but population is growing exponentially, so even if we stopped the waste, it wouldn't help us for long.

That is not true. World population growth has been slowing.

Re:What food crisis? (1)

dasunt (249686) | about a year and a half ago | (#41057223)

No, seriously. There is no food crisis. As a species we have a food distribution problem, and a food wastage problem and they're rather shocking at that, but we really have no issue with feeding the population of earth today without resorting to eating genetically modified photosynthetic aphids.

Plus the logic is bad. We already have mechanisms for turning sunlight into food, they are called "plants". Why not eat high-protein plants instead of aphids in the first place?

Re:What food crisis? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about a year and a half ago | (#41057623)

No, seriously. There is no food crisis. As a species we have a food distribution problem, and a food wastage problem and they're rather shocking at that, but we really have no issue with feeding the population of earth today [...]

This is a little misleading IMO.

First off, you can't argue with the basic Malthusian issue. If population grows geometrically, at some point we are guaranteed to run out of food, if only because we reach the limits imposed by the laws of thermodynamics.

And even supposing that the planet's population eventually levels off at some number where we're still able to feed everyone, there is no guarantee that we will be happy with the way the world turns out at that point. In particular, the environmental effects may be ugly. Here in California, for example, we have serious ecological problems in the Sacramento Delta and Owens Valley due to diversion of water to agriculture.

helping address humanity's food crisis. (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051463)

Humanity's food crisis is a political problem, not a technical one.

Re:helping address humanity's food crisis. (1)

ApharmdB (572578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052633)

But it is a political problem that with an understanding of humanity (or a realistic/pessimistic opinion), one realizes humanity will never solve. So perhaps a technological, post-scarcity world created by technology is the only solution.

Re:helping address humanity's food crisis. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41054057)

...understanding of humanity....

If you understand Pavlov and Skinner (ok, maybe a bit of Freud, Jung, and Reich), then you understand humanity. We're no different than anything else, just more complex.

Re:helping address humanity's food crisis. (1)

fa2k (881632) | about a year and a half ago | (#41055495)

Humanity's food crisis is a political problem, not a technical one.

Well, given great technology, almost any problem can be solved. If we had 20x the food we have now, it would be a lot easier to distribute it.

Re:helping address humanity's food crisis. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41055891)

No, it doesn't require any great technology. It only requires a change in attitude. It only requires that we at least make a feeble effort to mitigate the corruption, that we waste less, that we make less war. We already have all the tech we need for this.

Re:helping address humanity's food crisis. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41058157)

Uh. Care to elaborate on that? It is one of those "common wisdom" sound bites that seems to be, simply put, wrong.

It is true that crisis (wherever it is, there is no global crisis) is not a technical one, but it also is not a simple political problem, unless you consider drastic change in economic models is within field of simple politics.

What about Vespa Orientalis? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051511)

Really the first? Vespa Orientalis has been shown to harvest sunlight for energy. Or does that not strictly count as photosnthesis?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vespa_orientalis

Re:What about Vespa Orientalis? (3, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051607)

Really the first? Vespa Orientalis has been shown to harvest sunlight for energy. Or does that not strictly count as photosnthesis? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vespa_orientalis [wikipedia.org]

Maybe because the mechanism is still uncertain [wikipedia.org] ?

Corals... hard and soft... (3, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052227)

Many coral and soft coral species do it as well -- some using symbionts, some directly -- and they are animals, not vegetable.

Re:What about Vespa Orientalis? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052863)

They appear to create electricity not sugary chemical energy, which is what photosynthesis does.

People synthesize Vitamin D using sunlight (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051537)

That's probably a type of photosynthesis - using sunlight to produce Vitamin D from cholesterol, which is a vital hormone that 80% of us are lacking.
You know, sunlight's purpose is not to cause cancer and cholesterol is not there to clog your arteries, nature has a purpose for everything.

Re:People synthesize Vitamin D using sunlight (5, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051615)

nature has a purpose for everything.

Stop anthropomorphizing nature: it hates when you do it!

Re:People synthesize Vitamin D using sunlight (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#41053149)

I love that more people modded this insightful rather than funny.
"He used a big word.. it must be insightful!"
Dear fellow slahdotters, anthropomorphizing means giving something the characteristics of humans, when it is not human.

The statement is funny because he say to stop doing that, then does it himself in the same sentence. By some that would be considered a form of irony.
It was certainly intended as a joke. And the fact that the crowd here cannot see it, but feels confident in modding insightful is a sign of our own hubris.

There may be a different reasono (1)

greenreaper (205818) | about a year and a half ago | (#41055489)

Modding "funny" does not give the commenter karma; modding "insightful" does. This devalues "funny".

Mother nature can be a bitch (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052255)

nature has a purpose for everything.

Yes, well, not all "purposes", as you miscast them, are benign, and nature's implementation can be pretty darned faulty, because the underlying mechanism is basically a random process that selects for stuff that works -- not that is optimal. E(e)volution is full of dead branches, and useless, dangerous, or outright fatal mutations. Let's not get too hand-wavy about "nature's purpose."

Coral Symbiosis (1)

Tuqui (96668) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051541)

Isn't this insect doing something like this coral symbiosis [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Coral Symbiosis (5, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051755)

Isn't this insect doing something like this coral symbiosis [wikipedia.org]?

Before I popped open the article, I figured it was going to be another one of those symbiont cases, or at the most one of those kleptoplasty cases (where the organism integrates and uses ingested chloroplasts). Turns out it's much more interesting -- the aphid apparently has it's own carotenoid synthesis pathways, and (it is hypothesized) can use it to reduce NAD+ for the purposes of pumping protons to drive ATP synthesis.

It's not a full photosynthesis pathway like plants have. They won't be able to get as much energy, nor can they fix CO2 to make organic substrates. But it is their own endogenous system that's at work (although parts of that system may have been obtained through horizontal gene transfer).

I am getting tired of this human food crisis talk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051559)

The human food crisis is really a political one. We have country with too much food and country without. Newer way of doing food with less energy, or forcing us all in the west to eat insect or recycled shit will NOT solve the food crisis problem, as it will not solve the political distribution problem. The problem is to find method which can be used reliably by the 3rd world, alone on their own, without paying through the nose for patents. Wake me up when such method has been developped and the political problem solved. until then talk about "solving the food problem" are BS talk attempting to solve the wrong problem.

Re:I am getting tired of this human food crisis ta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051689)

How about instead of solving food distribution, we move people to where the food is? (apologies to Sam Kinison)

Re:I am getting tired of this human food crisis ta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41053601)

The people who are already there tend to get irate.

Eat animals that photosynthesize? (1)

tgv (254536) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051597)

Do we really have to look for animals that photosynthesize? Why not stick with plants?

Re:Eat animals that photosynthesize? (1)

Dwedit (232252) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051683)

I think this is more about taking genes from some animal that can photosynthesize, and putting them into another animal. Genetic engineering.
Of course, I'm not one of those mad scientists that do this kind of thing.

dbz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051617)

They're Namekians!

Mistake in summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051823)

Contrary to the summary fungi are incapable of photosynthesis.

Fungi are not photosynthetic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41051829)

Some fungi may have genes encoding caratenoids, but none are photosynthetic. Good summary as usual!

Re:Fungi are not photosynthetic! (1)

Lord Maud'Dib (611577) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052047)

Maybe they just suck dark?

Re:Fungi are not photosynthetic! (2)

darkfeline (1890882) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052217)

If we discovered how to produce energy from the absence of light (i.e., energy from nothing), every physicist in the world would kneel down and cry, while the rest of us rejoiced.

Re:Fungi are not photosynthetic! (1)

richardcavell (694686) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052399)

Physicists say that there was once a massive explosion of huge quantities of mass and energy in all directions, which emerged from absolutely nothing. So much for the laws of thermodynamics. Richard

Food crisis? (3, Informative)

cripkd (709136) | about a year and a half ago | (#41051833)

Why can't something be interesting and considered a breakthrough in any field of science and research still be conducted without it having to solve any type of crisis?
Especially when the connection to that crisis is made artificially in a summary, just to throw some glitter on a piece of scientific news?

Re:Food crisis? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052153)

Because science has become political. Not because the scientist wanted it, but because it is perceived (probably correctly) that this will improve your career chances.

Society, through their governments, is thinking that scientist should do useful science. Hence, we need to write paragraphs into our grant proposal hypothesizing how our work will help society. Of course, we have absolutely no idea whether it will, but we need to convince some government official that it will. The trouble is, this way of writing and thinking leaks into other areas: press releases (understandably, they are for society), even scientific papers (though not so much in the FA).

I was reviewing a paper on photosynthesis recently. In the introduction, The authors claimed that their work would help improving crop production. I was wondering whether I should criticize them for this. Their statement had nothing to do with the science presented, which was fine. And I know everybody writes these things in proposals. But does it really have a place in a work of science? I think not, yet, it is not that distracting if they do it only one or twice. I see it as a Zeitgeist kind of thing.

Meh... (1)

garphik (996984) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052099)

So, there will be a fight for becoming taller and broader, space on land will become so important that you have to almost root yourself there?

A pretty convincing correlation (1)

ananyo (2519492) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052151)

A lot of slashdotters love to rubbish media coverage of science. Well here's one of many examples where the news story is more balanced and revealing than the paper. No mention of feeding the world etc
From Nature's news story [nature.com] about this paper:
"When the researchers measured the aphids’ levels of ATP — the ‘currency’ of energy transfer in all living things — the results were striking. Green aphids, which contain high levels of carotenoids, make significantly more ATP than do white ones, which are almost devoid of these pigments. Moreover, ATP production rose when the orange insects — which contain an intermediate amount of carotenoids — were placed in the light, and fell when they were moved into the dark."

Re:A pretty convincing correlation (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052969)

Convincing, but that could also be caused by temperature increase. I wonder if they measured the body temeperature of the animals put in sunlight.

Re:A pretty convincing correlation (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#41056773)

A lot of slashdotters love to rubbish media coverage of science.

That's because 99% of the time they get it 99% wrong.

Just wait'll the find out (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052187)

When the Republicans find out there's a photovoltaic bug they are gonna be pissed! They'll spend tens of millions trying to prove there's a coal powered bug.

Re:Just wait'll the find out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052615)

actually there is.
just google coal eating bacteria

Photosynthesising aphids? (1)

jandersen (462034) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052259)

Photosynthesis as far as we know, produces sugar - the one thing that aphids find in such overwhelming abundance in their food (plant sap) that they have to excrete most of it. On the surface, at least, it would seem surprising if they were to produce their own suger by means of photosynthesis; this is possibly just the summary that overinterprets the findings of the article, is my guess.

Re:Photosynthesising aphids? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41052807)

Actually it produce ATP, which can then be used for quite any number of purposes, including making sugar.

A sign of progress (0)

Kijori (897770) | about a year and a half ago | (#41052499)

Flying seeming like boarding a flying bus is a good thing and a sign of progress.

When things are new and undeveloped they seem unfamiliar and slightly scary; this makes them seem special. When they start seeming boring and banal that's a sign that the technology and process have matured to the point that it's no longer a big deal. It might seem a shame that flying has lost its "magic", but that's the price you pay for easy, safe air-travel.

This will complete the cycle (1)

MiniMike (234881) | about a year and a half ago | (#41053165)

Scientists have already discovered genes that allow animals to become bioluminescent [wikipedia.org] . Combine these genes with the photosynthesis genes in livestock and no one will ever be hungry again!

I'm a vegetarian. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41053339)

If we have chickens with photosynthesis, can I eat them?

Old Man's War (2)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year and a half ago | (#41055357)

I believe John Scalzi already had this idea in his book Old Man's War wereby soldier bodies were built to include a bit of photosynthesis, making the bodies a lovely light green colour.

There may have been other science fiction that describes this, but that is one that came to mind recently.

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