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Rare Toxic Algae Identified

Scientists have identified an unusual species of pathogenic algae that causes human skin infections, described in a new study in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. The finding should improve our understanding of how rare species of algae are sometimes able to cause serious disease in humans and animals.

Researchers from Teikyo University in Tokyo isolated a previously unidentified species of microalgae from a biopsy of a human chronic skin ulcer. They named the micro-organism Prototheca cutis after comparison with other strains showed it was genetically similar to Prototheca wickerhamii -- a rare algal species that has previously been associated with causing human skin infection, septicemia, or meningitis.

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