Red algae provide fertile ground for exploring parasite evolution
Blouin, Nicolas A.; Lane, Christopher E.
Abstract Parasitism within the red algae provides an exciting opportunity to investigate co-evolutionary dynamics of host/parasite pairs, particularly as it relates to the evolution of new parasitic taxa. Unlike many other parasites where there is a lack of closely related free-living taxa with which to make comparisons, the red algae most often parasitize sister taxa. In many cases this provides an opportunity to make genomic comparisons at the level of speciation concomitant with the evolution of a parasitic lifestyle. Here, we synthesize the current hypotheses with respect to how these parasites have arisen nearly 100 times within the florideophyte red algae. We also place current research in the context of available genomic data within the group and suggest opportunities for research to test how parasites arise readily within the red algae and how parasitic relationships are established.