The common spotted salamander lives with Chlamydomonad algea inside of it, so with live algae inside of its body. This symbiotic relationship is a really special one. Researchers found that large amounts of this algae go inside of the salamanders embryo. The algae offers oxygen as trade off for the nitrogen-rich environment offered by the embryo.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
First off the salamanders immune system had to develop to not get primed by the algae or else its immune system would fight it off as a threat. Somehow the algae gets transferred by the parent into the embryo, yet researchers are not yet sure how this happens. During the growth of the embryo the algae is spread throughout the whole embryo but it was found to be concentrated mainly in the gut and alimentary canal suggesting it helps with nutritional processing as well.
WHY SYNTHESIZE THIS?
This symbiosis shows how organisms can help each other in becoming more efficient. Studying this close interplay between life forms can possibly teach us more about creating closed systems with less waste and more synergy. As we get closer to space travel we need to learn about the possibilities of fusing with organisms to become more resilient and adaptive to environmental circumstances.
Image courtesy National Geographic