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How does an alga become a parasite?

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Some of the most common infectious diseases are caused by intracellular parasites which are related to algae. These include Plasmodium, which causes millions of cases of malaria each year, and Toxoplasma, which infects over 50% of the world’s population. These parasites are related to dinoflagellate algae, more commonly found as symbionts in coral reefs. Other dinoflagellate species are free-living, and are found in oceans and lakes worldwide. By studying the three forms (free-living and photosynthetic, symbiont and photosynthetic and parasitic and non-photosynthetic), we can start to explain how an organism evolves to become a parasite.

This talk is part of the Evolution and Development Seminar Series series.

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