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 ObornĂ­k

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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