What would happen if we inject a chloroplast organelle into an animal cell?

Will the animal cell destroy it? Or is it possible that the chloroplast will somehow survive, and even replicate? Could there be photosynthesis in such a cell, or will some of the necessary mechanisms be missing?


To answer your bigger question:

Yes, most of this is possible - under some conditions -, and animals and animal cells can acquire chloroplasts, and use them.

E.g.: see Elysia chlorotica whose cells actively take up chloroplasts and use them, and keep them alive (though not replicating). - Though some genes of algae are also contained in the Elysia chlorotica genome - which may be considered as partial replication.

Also there are salamanders that have replicating algae within them (since embryogenesis) - even algae (with chloroplasts) within animal cells - though here the algae might be rather understood as symbionts or "cell types", and the animal cells don't have the chloroplasts by themselves.

  • $\begingroup$ de Vries et al. (2014) Trends Plant Sci 19: 347-350. "Some marine slugs sequester plastids from their algae food, which can remain photosynthetically functional in the animal's digestive gland cells in the absence of algal nuclei. The sequestered plastids (kleptoplasts) appear to maintain functional photosystems through a greater autonomy than land plant plastids." ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24767983 $\endgroup$
    – user37894
    Nov 27 '17 at 8:33

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