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Symbiotic Cloroplasts

Genetically engineer cloroplasts to live symbiotically in human skin
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There are several classes of animals (such as Nudibranchs -- "Sea Slugs") which have cloroplasts living symbiotically in their skin. The cloroplasts convert sunlight into sugar through photosynthesis, and provide their host with free calories in exchange for a safe and homeostatic environment.
In Nudibranchs the cloroplasts provide up to 10% of daily food requirements. So this would be a real boon in many third world countries, which have a seeming abundance of sunlight, but real problems with food production.
Can't you imagine all the green skinned people, walking around, taking in the sun?
stoweboyd, Aug 02 2000

The Living Tattoo Weight Loss Program http://www.halfbake...ht_20Loss_20Program
For fashionable first worlders who need to *lose* weight... [Uncle Nutsy, Aug 02 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

food from sunlight http://www.halfbake...d_20from_20sunlight
Redundant (love that Search function). [centauri, Aug 02 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

One Animal That Does It http://motherboard....ble-to-eat-sunlight
Elysia chlorotica - the animal that's sort of a plant [Skewed, Jun 12 2016]


       Your Uncle Nutsy is pretty certain a geneticist can think of several horrifying reasons why this idea is far too risky. Since your Uncle Nutsy is not a geneticist, though, he'll just admit that he thinks this would be pretty cool.   

       Maybe you could combine this some of the tattoo-type ideas from the Fashion:Body section (notably Human Bioluminescence, Reactive Tattoos and ElectroTattoos) for added elan.   

       Also, check out the obverse of this idea: The Living Tattoo Weight Loss Program!
Uncle Nutsy, Aug 02 2000

       Given the name, I'm guessing the "sea slugs" aren't especially active critters...
egnor, Aug 03 2000

       There's a John Varley story in which such human/plant symbiotes orbit Jupiter naked and perfect their musical abilities.
jimfl, Aug 04 2000

       That story sounds similar to the space trees and such in the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. Lots of interesting bioengineering in those books!
amadeus, Sep 22 2000

       egnor, actually... water slug thingies (lol) are much more active than their land brothers. the water lets them move alot more, and they do.
ironfroggy, Feb 23 2001

       Done in Geoff Ryman's novel The Child Garden, though the pigment used there was rhodopsin rather than chlorophyll, so people were purple.   

       Green would look pretty cool, but chlorophyll photosynthesis uses up CO2 and produces oxygen -- not necessarily a good thing since it would cause oxidative damage in your skin and upset your acid-base balance. But if you had algae growing on you as an outer layer, you could just nibble on the stuff as needed.
hob, Jun 04 2001

       If we're going to do a lot of bioengineering we can't do anyway, why not just do more of it and make it so it feeds the oxygen into the lungs?   

       "Wouldn't be neat if"?
StarChaser, Jun 04 2001

       I thought chloroplasts were organelles, not organisms. If they were organelles, I'd want to coat them with humyn antigens so you can integrate them intracellularly. Also make sure you have enough genes to manufacture them yourself. What's the mechanism to the weight loss?
LoriZ, Jun 05 2001

       Lori, chloroplasts are organelles, yes. Having them inside the cells would be better, but the cardiovascular system is set up to deliver oxygen to the rest of the body from the lungs, not from the skin. So my point is, this whole thing is not as easy as it sounds.
hob, Jun 05 2001

       How about just hair? Lots of people have green hair for fashion reasons anyhow. You could give it to diabetics to generate more sugar for them or something. Give bald people a valid excuse to get transplants, too, killing two birds with one stone.
MazeCat, Jun 05 2001

       In an evolutionary sense, chloroplasts were symbionts.   

       It wouldn't work in people, because:   

       (1) Sunbathing would make you fat (2) You'd get banned from the cinema in Dixie (3) The fad would pass and you'd be left with a really ugly skin condition and cellulite
FloridaManatee, Jan 02 2003

       as crazy as it sounds, this was actually tried a few years ago, in a way... i don't remember the specifics, but it was a study where chloroplasts were implanted into volunteers' skin cells... their bodies rejected the foreign material, of course... it caused a major immune system reaction. I wish i could remember where or when. (By the way, that's right, chloroplasts [and mitochondria] are organelles but may have started as simple symbyotic prokaryotes living inside larger prokaryotes)
Electric Monk, Mar 22 2003

       You wouldn't gain that much from it. In the best case you're not going to get more than 50 calories per square centimeter per day (assuming 10% efficiency which is pretty high). Assume a skin area of 10,000 cm^2 and you get 500 kcal / day which is maybe 20% of what you get from food. A reasonable number would probably be less than half of that.
wayne606, Apr 13 2004

       Possible problems could be a tendency to become tall and skinny during the winter season, and always leaning towards the Sun.
Ling, Apr 13 2004

       Instead of releasing the sugar into the blood stream, the little critters could store it and use it on cold days to keep your skin warm. By humming.
spacemoggy, Apr 13 2004

       Plant a sugarcane stalk in a small pot, making sure to carry it everywhere you travel. Then, via intravenous methods, arrange it so that a steady trickle of sap flows into your body.   

       Not as technologically innovative, but it gets the job done. And for a fraction of the price!
WordUp, Apr 14 2004

       even a mere 10% reduction in calorie requirements would be nice   

       but I think the main reason I really like this idea is that it would encourage a lot more public nudity ;D   

       as the OP said, there's a small sea slug (Elysia chlorotica) that actually does this, see linky
Skewed, Jun 12 2016

       A 10% reduction is unrealistic for us mammals that move around all the time and get cancer if they stay in the sun all day. Especially humans, we burn so many calories we had to de-evolve most of our hair. My blind guess is 3% for someone who sunbathes all day, 1% for someone who works in the sun all day*, and .5% for most people.   

       edit: *%50 less because he's probably wearing pants, and another few percent less because he needs more calories.
Voice, Jun 13 2016

       every little helps..   

       besides, I still like the idea, if only for the expected upsurge in nudist sunbathing among those aiming for that extra (by your figures) 2.5%
Skewed, Jun 13 2016

       anyone with chloroplasts would perhaps be a bit less susceptible to solar induced skin cancers.. they'd tend to intercept & soak up a lot of the sunlight responsible for that
Skewed, Jun 13 2016


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