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Wikispecies

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It covers Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Bacteria, Archaea, Protista and all other forms of life.

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Distinguished author

Mary Agnes Chase Collecting Plants, Brazil, Image ID 96-548.tif

Mary Agnes Chase
1869–1963. Standard IPNI form: Chase

Mary Agnes Chase, née Merrill, was an American botanist who worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Smithsonian Institution. She is considered one of the world's outstanding agrostologists and is known for her work on the study of grasses, and also for her work as a suffragist. Chase was born in Iroquois County, Illinois and held no formal education beyond grammar school. That aside, she made significant contributions to the field of botany, authored over 70 scientific publications, and was conferred with an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Illinois. She specialized in the study of grasses and conducted extensive field work in North- as well as and South America. Her Smithsonian Field Books collection from 1897 to 1959 is archived in the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

In 1901, Chase became a botanical assistant at the Field Museum of Natural History under Charles Frederick Millspaugh, where her work was featured in two museum publications: Plantae Utowanae (1900) and Plantae Yucatanae (1904). Two years later, Chase joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a botanical illustrator and eventually became a scientific assistant in systematic agrostology (1907), assistant botanist (1923), and associate botanist (1925), all under Albert Spear Hitchcock. Chase worked with Hitchcock for almost twenty years, collaborating closely and also publishing, for instance The North American Species of Panicum (1910).

Following Hitchcock's death in 1936, Chase succeeded him to become senior botanist in charge of systematic agrostology and custodian of the Section of Grasses, Division of Plants at the United States National Museum (USNM). Chase retired from the USDA in 1939, but continued her work as custodian of the USNM grass herbarium until her death in 1963. She was an Honorary Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution (1959) and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (1961). Agnesia is named in her honour (a monotypic genus of herbaceous South American bamboo in the grass family).

Chase experienced discrimination based on her gender in the scientific field, for example, being excluded from expeditions to Panama in 1911 and 1912 because the expedition's benefactors feared the presence of women researchers would distract men. During World War I, Chase marched with Alice Paul and was jailed several times for her activities. In 1918, she was arrested at the Silent Sentinels rally picketing the White House; she refused bail and was held for 10 days, where she instigated a hunger-strike and was force-fed. The USDA accused her of "conduct unbecoming a government employee," but Hitchcock helped her keep her job. Chase was also an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

See also: Distinguished authors of previous months.

Species of the month

Eastern Emerald Elysia

Elysia chlorotica

Plakobranchidae Elysia chlorotica

Some facts about this green sea slug:

Description:
Elysia chlorotica (common name the eastern emerald elysia) is a small-to-medium-sized species of green sea slug, a marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusc. This sea slug superficially resembles a nudibranch, yet it does not belong to that clade of gastropods. Instead it is a member of the clade Sacoglossa, the sap-sucking sea slugs. Some members of this group use chloroplasts from the algae they eat for photosynthesis, a phenomenon known as kleptoplasty. Elysia chlorotica is one of these "solar-powered sea slugs". It lives in a subcellular endosymbiotic relationship with chloroplasts of the marine heterokont alga Vaucheria litorea.

Elysia chlorotica feeds on the intertidal alga Vaucheria litorea. It punctures the algal cell wall with its radula, then holds the algal strand firmly in its mouth and sucks out the contents as from a straw. Instead of digesting the entire cell contents, or passing the contents through its gut unscathed, it retains only the chloroplasts, by storing them within its extensive digestive system. It then takes up the live chloroplasts into its own gut cells as organelles and maintains them alive and functional for many months. The acquisition of chloroplasts begins immediately following metamorphosis from the veliger stage when the juvenile sea slugs begin to feed on the Vaucheria litorea cells. Juvenile slugs are brown with red pigment spots until they feed upon the algae, at which point they become green. This is caused by the distribution of the chloroplasts throughout the extensively branched gut. At first the slug needs to feed continually on algae to retain the chloroplasts, but over time the chloroplasts become more stably incorporated into the cells of the gut enabling the slug to remain green without further feeding. Some Elysia chlorotica slugs have even been known to be able to use photosynthesis for up to a year after only a few feedings.quently endorsed by the World Health Assembly on 8 May 1980.

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