Main Issue of Nature Commented on the Latest Research Progress Achieved by the Team under the Leadership of Professor Lu Zuhong

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Proceedings of the Royal Society B reported online the research paper titled Phagocytic Intracellular Digestion in Amphioxus (Branchiostoma) composed by Professor Lu Zuhong and his students He Chunpeng et al. from the School of Biological Sciences & Medical Engineering, SEU with unprecedentedly long space (10 pages). This paper was also commented by Nature in the form of Highlight.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B is the most ancient scientific journal in the world and is cited as one of the 30 biological journals indexed by Nature magazine. In The research paper published by Lu Zuhong and He Chunpeng, they have found that the amphioxus caecus is a digestive organ that performs the intracellular digestion mechanism, which has verified the actual existence of the intracellular digestion mechanism in multicellular animals with direct evidences for the first time and refuted the theory of hepatic cecum that has been prevalent for over 170 years. It is a major theoretical breakthrough in the history of biology. Previously, the intracellular digestion mode was generally considered as the original digestion mode unique to unicellular animals. Lu Zuhong and his student He Chunpeng, in their studies on the evolution and origin of liver and pancreas of vertebrates for more than a decade, unexpectedly discovered that the epithelial cells of the amphioxus’ digestive tract (especially the caecus) can directly devour the food particles such as algae, etc. and then make effective digestion, absorption and utilization. The epithelial cells of amphioxus’ digestive tract can not only directly degrade algae into such nutrients as amino acid, oligopeptide, oligosaccharide, oligonucleotide, fatty acid, vitamin and microelement etc. within the cells by means of its powerful digestive and immune genetic groups, but also effectively decompose harmful substances such as algal toxin for the purpose of directly converting algae into absorbable and non-hazardous nutrients.

The ecological pollution control and effective utilization of algae have been always the scientific difficulty confronted by the whole world. The current algae treatment methods are costly in addition to tortuous technological path and poor practicability. In this sense, the research achievement reported by this paper has not only deepen the people’s understandings of the evolution and origin of vertebrates, but pointed out definite direction of algae pollution control and comprehensive utilization of algae biomass, such as conversion of algae to feedstuff, etc. This achievement will lead to disruptive changes in ecological environment control and feed industry structure, etc..