Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lethal parasite evolved from pond scum

Date:
May 8, 2014
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
A genomic investigation has revealed that a lethal parasite infecting a wide range of insects actually originated from pond scum, but has completely shed its green past on its evolutionary journey. The research team sequenced the genome of Helicosporidium -- an intracellular parasite that can kill juvenile blackflies, caterpillars, beetles and mosquitoes -- and found it evolved from algae like another notorious pathogen: malaria.

The corkscrew-shaped Helicosporidium is a parasite that has its origins in green alga.
Credit: Drion Boucias, University of Florida

A genomic investigation by University of British Columbia researchers has revealed that a lethal parasite infecting a wide range of insects actually originated from pond scum, but has completely shed its green past on its evolutionary journey.

Related Articles


A team led by UBC Botany Prof. Patrick Keeling sequenced the genome of Helicosporidium -- an intracellular parasite that can kill juvenile blackflies, caterpillars, beetles and mosquitoes -- and found it evolved from algae like another notorious pathogen: malaria.

Keeling and colleagues had previously reported that malaria shared a common evolutionary lineage with the algae responsible for toxic red tides. Their latest study, published in the online journal PLOS Genetics, shows that Helicosporidium evolved from green alga but, unlike malaria, preserved virtually all its genes except those required for photosynthesis.

"Both malaria and Helicosporidium started out as alga and ended up as intracellular parasites preying on animals, but they have done it in very different ways," says Keeling, director of the Centre for Microbial Diversity and Evolution at UBC and a Senior Fellow of Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

"Malaria drastically reduced its genome and became very dependent on its host for nutrients. Helicosporidium, on the other hand, lost almost nothing except those genes required for photosynthesis, which it no longer needs as a parasite.

"It's as if photosynthesis has been surgically removed from its genome."

The discovery, done in collaboration with scientists at the Universities of Rhode Island and Florida, will allow researchers to compare how parasites evolve at the molecular level in these two distantly related lineages. It also provides the first insights into their origins, development as well as methods of infection, which are key to controlling the population of pest-insect hosts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jean-Franηois Pombert, Nicolas Achille Blouin, Chris Lane, Drion Boucias, Patrick J. Keeling. A Lack of Parasitic Reduction in the Obligate Parasitic Green Alga Helicosporidium. PLoS Genetics, 2014; 10 (5): e1004355 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004355

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Lethal parasite evolved from pond scum." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508172314.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2014, May 8). Lethal parasite evolved from pond scum. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508172314.htm
University of British Columbia. "Lethal parasite evolved from pond scum." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508172314.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins