Elysia chlorotica is a multicellular kleptoplast that obtains chloroplasts from the algae Vaucheria litorea. It has recently been shown (Rumpho, 2008) that kleptoplasty has been facilitated by the horizontal transfer of algal genes (e.g. psbO) into E.chlorotica. This allows the maintenance of chloroplasts for up to 10 months.
Perhaps we can reverse engineer this process such that chloroplasts can be made autonomous and then inserted into mammalian cells – this is probably too ambitious for an iGEM project.
Original Source: Title: Horizontal gene transfer of the algal nuclear gene psbO to the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia chlorotica Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America [0027-8424] Rumpho yr:2008 vol:105 iss:46 pg:17867