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.