Photosynthetic eukaryotic lineages resulting from symbiogenesis

(Embley and Martin 2006; Keeling 2010; Bhattacharya, Price et al. 2013; Harold 2014; Moreira and Deschamps 2014; Meheust, Zelzion et al. 2016)

Taxonomic Group

Symbiogenetic origin



   Green algae (Chlorophyta)

Primary cyanobacterial endosymbiosis

   Glaucophytes (order Chlorococcales)

Primary cyanobacterial endosymbiosis

   Red algae (Rhodophyta)

Primary cyanobacterial endosymbiosis

   Land plants (Embryophyta)

Primary cyanobacterial endosymbiosis


Euglyphid amoeba Paulinella chromatophora

Primary cyanobacterial endosymbiosis (Synechococcus-Prochloron clade) (Mackiewicz, Bodyl et al. 2012; Nowack and Grossman 2012; McFadden 2014)


Euglenids (flagellated algae)

Secondary green algal endosymbiosis

Chlorarachniophytes (marine algae)

Secondary green algal endosymbiosis

Chromalveolates (multiple lineages including organisms responsible for a large fraction of atmospheric oxygen, such as brown algae, coccolithotrphs, cryptophytes and diatoms)

Secondary red algal endosymbiosis


Dinoflagellates (flagellated marine and fresh water protists)

Tertiary chromalveolate endosymbiosis or serial green or red alga endosymbioses (Hackett, Anderson et al. 2004; Yoon, Hackett et al. 2005; Dorrell and Howe 2015)

 Warwowiid dinoflagellates with camera eye-like “ocelloids” formed by serial symbiogenetic events

 (Gavelis, Hayakawa et al. 2015), (Gomez, Lopez-Garcia et al. 2009; Hayakawa, Takaku et al. 2015)





Bhattacharya, D., D. C. Price, et al. (2013). "Genome of the red alga Porphyridium purpureum." Nat Commun 4: 1941.

Dorrell, R. G. and C. J. Howe (2015). "Integration of plastids with their hosts: Lessons learned from dinoflagellates." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112(33): 10247-10254.

Embley, T. M. and W. Martin (2006). "Eukaryotic evolution, changes and challenges." Nature 440(7084): 623-630.

Gavelis, G. S., S. Hayakawa, et al. (2015). "Eye-like ocelloids are built from different endosymbiotically acquired components." Nature 523(7559): 204-207.

Gomez, F., P. Lopez-Garcia, et al. (2009). "Molecular phylogeny of the ocelloid-bearing dinoflagellates erythropsidinium and warnowia (warnowiaceae, dinophyceae)." J Eukaryot Microbiol 56(5): 440-445.

Hackett, J. D., D. M. Anderson, et al. (2004). "Dinoflagellates: a remarkable evolutionary experiment." Am J Bot 91(10): 1523-1534.

Harold, F. M. (2014). In Search of Cell History: The Evolution of Life's Building Blocks. Chicago, University Of Chicago Press. .

Hayakawa, S., Y. Takaku, et al. (2015). "Function and evolutionary origin of unicellular camera-type eye structure." PLoS One 10(3): e0118415.

Keeling, P. J. (2010). "The endosymbiotic origin, diversification and fate of plastids." Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 365(1541): 729-748.

Mackiewicz, P., A. Bodyl, et al. (2012). "Possible import routes of proteins into the cyanobacterial endosymbionts/plastids of Paulinella chromatophora." Theory Biosci 131(1): 1-18.

McFadden, G. I. (2014). "Origin and evolution of plastids and photosynthesis in eukaryotes." Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 6(4): a016105.

Meheust, R., E. Zelzion, et al. (2016). "Protein networks identify novel symbiogenetic genes resulting from plastid endosymbiosis." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113(13): 3579-3584.

Moreira, D. and P. Deschamps (2014). "What was the real contribution of endosymbionts to the eukaryotic nucleus? Insights from photosynthetic eukaryotes." Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 6(7): a016014.

Nowack, E. C. and A. R. Grossman (2012). "Trafficking of protein into the recently established photosynthetic organelles of Paulinella chromatophora." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(14): 5340-5345.

Yoon, H. S., J. D. Hackett, et al. (2005). "Tertiary endosymbiosis driven genome evolution in dinoflagellate algae." Mol Biol Evol 22(5): 1299-1308.