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Zoology Seminar


TUESDAY
28th February, 12 noon

Neil Chalmers Science Seminar Room  (DC.LG16)

 

Contact: Ronald Jenner, Zoology



The Mysterious World of Vampire Amoebae and  Plasmodiophorid Plant Parasites

Sigrid NEUHAUSER & Cédric  BERNEY
Department of Zoology, NHM

Vampire amoebae  (Vampyrellida) and plasmodiophorid plant parasites (Phytomyxea) have been known  since the second half of the XIXth century, yet have been given very little  attention up to now in spite of their fascinating biology. The taxonomic  position of both groups has been much debated for over a century, but recent  molecular work showed them to be sister lineages within the eukaryotic  supergroup Rhizaria. From their common ancestor, the Vampyrellida evolved to  become super-predators of algae, fungi and other microorganisms in all marine  and terrestrial microbial ecosystems, with some species adopting a peculiar mode  of feeding that earned them the name of vampire amoebae. In contrast, the  Phytomyxea evolved to become obligate, endobiotic parasites of higher plants,  diatoms, brown algae and oomycetes. Members of this group can cause devastating  and significant plant diseases (e.g. Plasmodiophora brassicae causing  clubroot disease), while others will spend their life hidden inside their hosts  without causing any visible symptoms. As part of our research group’s focus on  the biodiversity, evolution, and ecological importance of poorly known members  of the Rhizaria, we will present some of our results and illustrate the  enigmatic nature and contrasting lifestyles of vampire amoebae and  plasmodiophorid plant parasites.