14. Jan 2020 · Press release

Alga of the Year 2020: Chromera velia, autonomous relative of prominent parasites

The alga Chromera velia under the light microscope. The chloroplasts with the unique genetic code appear golden brown in the light microscope. Image: Miroslav Oborník

The alga Chromera velia lives associated with corals in the Australian Great Barrier Reef. It is related to parasites such as the pathogen that causes malaria, however, the alga can live without a host, whereas parasites are dependent upon their hosts for survival. Chromera velia combines the lifestyles of free-living algae and parasites and thus helps to understand the evolution of pathogens. Algal researchers from the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG) have curated Chromera velia as Alga of the Year 2020.

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More images of the alga Chromera velia

Electron micrograph of the alga Chromera velia, only 5 µm (5 thousandths of a millimetre) in size, here displayed in green. Image: Miroslav Oborník

Photos for the press release alga of the year 2020: Chromera velia, autonomous relative of prominent parasites

Use and Copyrights

Use of the images is only permitted in connection with reporting on the topic ‘alga of the year 2020’ and only if the photographers are acknowledged in the format: first name, second name, institution. Commercial use of the images is not permitted.

download more images (details, coral habitat, phylogenetic tree, electron microscopy image, lab)

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Contacts for the media

Dr. Ansgar Gruber

Biology Centre, Czech Academy of Sciences
Institute of Parasitology
Branišovská 1160/31
370 05 České Budějovice
Czech Republic

E-Mail: ansgar.gruber[at]paru.cas.cz
Telefon: +420 38777 5464
(In English or German)

Prof. Ing. Miroslav Oborník, PhD

Biology Centre, Czech Academy of Sciences
Institute of Parasitology
Branišovská 1160/31
370 05 České Budějovice
Czech Republic

E-Mail: obornik[at]paru.cas.cz
Telefon: +420 38777 5464
(In English or Czech)



Literature and Links

Discovery and relatives of Chromera velia:

Moore RB, Oborník M, Janouškovec J, Chrudimsky T, Vancová M, Green DH, Wright SW, Davies NW, Bolch CJ, Heimann K, et al. 2008. A photosynthetic alveolate closely related to apicomplexan parasites. Nature 451(7181): 959-963.
doi: 10.1038%2Fnature06635

Cell structure and life cycles of Chromera velia:

Oborník M, Vancová M, Lai D-H, Janouškovec J, Keeling PJ, Lukeš J. 2011. Morphology and Ultrastructure of Multiple Life Cycle Stages of the Photosynthetic Relative of Apicomplexa, Chromera velia. Protist 162(1): 115-130.
doi: 10.1016%2Fj.protis.2010.02.004

Sequencing the genome of Chromera velia:

Woo YH, Ansari H, Otto TD, Klinger CM, Kolisko M, Michálek J, Saxena A, Shanmugam D, Tayyrov A, Veluchamy A, et al. 2015. Chromerid genomes reveal the evolutionary path from photosynthetic algae to obligate intracellular parasites. eLife 4: e06974.
doi: 10.7554/eLife.06974

About the coexistence of Chromera velia with corals:

Mohamed AR, Cumbo VR, Harii S, Shinzato C, Chan CX, Ragan MA, Satoh N, Ball EE, Miller DJ. 2018. Deciphering the nature of the coral–Chromera association. ISME J 12(3): 776-790.
doi: 10.1038/s41396-017-0005-9

Futher Information

Phycology Section

Members of the Phycology Section scientifically investigate algae and work on ecological, physiological, taxonomic and molecularbiological questions dealing with micro- and macroalgae. The section promotes algal research and supports young scientists. It is one of the six  subject-specific Sections in the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG). The DBG represents more than 900 researchers in the plant sciences.

Information about the Institute of Parasitology of the Czech Academy of Sciences

The Institute of Parasitology is part of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (CAS). It was founded in Prague in 1962 and moved to České Budějovice (Budweis) in 1985. Together with other biologically oriented institutes it now forms the CAS Biology Centre. The main task of the institute is basic research on human and animal parasites, on the level of molecules, cells, and organisms. In addition to research, the institute also carries out training and education at national and international levels. The obtained knowledge is used, among other things, to prevent and treat diseases of humans and animals.