How? Well to be a considered a plant there are two main requirements: the organism has to make its own food and it must have cell walls. To be an animal, it’s the opposite — the organism must acquire nutrients from other sources and it doesn’t have cell walls. Sea anemones don’t make their own food and they don’t have cell walls, but there’s another factor that makes them half plant.
Plants and animals are also affected differently by microRNA. In animals, miRNA affects gene expression by activating and deactivating genes. Plant miRNA behaves differently — it’s much more specific.
Researchers at the University of Vienna found that while the sea anemone’s DNA is similar to a vertebrate, it’s miRNA behaves as if its a plant.
Check out the following video with Trace from DNews to learn more. He explains that “many single-celled organisms flirt with that animal-plant boundary line depending on their needs and adaptations,” but this discovery is important because sea anemones are multicellular.
Read the full news release here: Sea anemone is genetically half animal, half plant.
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