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UGA researchers find algal ancestor is key to how deadly pathogens proliferate

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Long ago, when life on Earth was in its infancy, a group of small single-celled algae propelled themselves through the vast prehistoric ocean by beating whip like tails called flagella. It's a relatively unremarkable tale, except that now, more than 800 million years later, these organisms have evolved into parasites that threaten human health, and their algal past in the ocean may be the key to stopping them.

The organisms are called apicomplexa, but people know them better as the parasites that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis, serious diseases that infect millions of people every year, particularly in the developing world.

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