Elysia (gastropod)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A live individual of Elysia ornata, head end towards the left
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Heterobranchia
Superorder: Sacoglossa
Superfamily: Plakobranchoidea
Family: Plakobranchidae
Genus: Elysia
Risso, 1818
Type species
Notarchus timidus
Risso, 1818

See text

  • Actaeon Rang, 1829
  • Aplysiopterus Delle Chiaje, 1830
  • Checholysia Ortea, Caballer, Moro & Espinosa, 2005
  • Elysia (Elysia) Risso, 1818
  • Elysia (Elysiopterus) Pruvot-Fol, 1946
  • Elysia (Tridachia)
  • Elysiella Verrill, 1872
  • Elysiella Bergh, 1871
  • Elysiobranchus Pruvot-Fol, 1930
  • Hydropsyche Kelaart, 1858
  • Pattyclaya Ev. Marcus, 1982
  • Pterogasteron Pease, 1860
  • Rhyzobranchus Cantraine, 1835
  • Thallepus Swainson, 1840
  • Thridachia P. Fischer, 1883
  • Tridachia Deshayes, 1857
  • Tridachiella MacFarland, 1924

Elysia is a genus of sea slugs, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Plakobranchidae. These animals are colorful sea slugs, and they can superficially resemble nudibranchs, but are not very closely related to them. Instead they are sacoglossans, commonly known as sap-sucking slugs.[1]

Elysia sea slugs graze on algae and some species such as E. viridis and E. chlorotica hijack the chloroplasts for themselves. The chloroplasts end up lining the slug’s digestive tract, enabling the slugs to survive solely by photosynthesis for several months at a time. This association is crucial for the development and maturing of the slug. Exactly how the slugs use the chloroplasts is unclear, as many of the proteins used by chloroplasts are encoded in the genome of the host cell. These proteins, numbering in the hundreds, are manufactured in the cell’s nucleus, and then moved into the chloroplast, enabling it to survive.[2]

Young specimens of E. atroviridis and E. marginata became known for their ability to regenerate the whole body from a severed head. This autotomy expels internal parasites.[3]

This genus was previously sometimes considered to be in the family Stiligeridae, and was also previously placed in the family Elysiidae.


The following species are recognised in the genus Elysia:[1]

Species brought into synonymy
  • Elysia arena Carlson & Hoff, 1978: synonym of Pattyclaya arena (Carlson & Hoff, 1978)
  • Elysia bedeckta MacFarland, 1966: synonym of Elysia hedgpethi Er. Marcus, 1961
  • Elysia cauze scops Ev. Marcus & Er. Marcus, 1967: synonym of Elysia scops Ev. Marcus & Er. Marcus, 1967
  • Elysia gracilis Risbec, 1928: synonym of Thuridilla gracilis (Risbec, 1928)
  • Elysia halimedae Macnae, 1954: synonym of Elysia pusilla (Bergh, 1871)
  • Elysia picta A. E. Verrill, 1901: synonym of Thuridilla picta (A. E. Verrill, 1901)
  • Elysia pruvotfolae Er. Marcus, 1957: synonym of Elysia crispata Mørch, 1863
  • Elysia schrammi Mörch, 1863: synonym of Elysia crispata Mørch, 1863
  • Elysia splendida Grube, 1861: synonym of Thuridilla hopei (Vérany, 1853)
  • Elysia thysanopoda Bergh, 1905: synonym of Thuridilla thysanopoda (Bergh, 1905)
  • Elysia vataae Risbec, 1928: synonym of Thuridilla vataae (Risbec, 1928)
  • Elysia verrilli Pruvot-Fol, 1946: synonym of Elysia crispata Mørch, 1863
Taxa inquirenda:
  • Elysia fezi Vilella, 1968
  • Elysia pruvotae Risbec, 1953


  1. ^ a b c Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S. (2010). Elysia Risso, 1818. In: Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S.; Rosenberg, G. (2010) World Marine Mollusca database. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=137928 on 2010-12-14
  2. ^ "Will we ever… photosynthesise like plants?". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2019-09-27.
  3. ^ Baker, Harry (2021-03-08). "This sea slug can chop off its head and grow an entire new body, twice". Live Science. Retrieved 2021-03-09.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]