Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Gracilariophila ozyroides

Gracilariophila ozyroides is an algal parasite that specialized on Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis. It's a great example of the freeloading family member. In essence it manipulates its algal cousin into supplying it with enough food so that it can grow and reproduce without having to perform any photosynthesis at all. The parasitic tissue is distinctively white since it has no need of chlorophyll or any other photosynthetic pigments through which most all other plants and algae earn their keep.

The infection and development of Gracilariophila is very similar to the fertilization of the female Gracilariopsis and the growth of its carposporophyte. It's been suggested that this is no coincidence and that the developmental peculiarities of the carposporophytes in many species of red algae has made them susceptible to the development of parasitic species. If you want to know more about this, you should look up the article by Goff and Zucarello (1994) listed in the references page.

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--Ben Hale 1999.

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009