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Scientific classification e
Phylum: Chlorophyta
Class: Trebouxiophyceae
Order: Chlorellales
Family: Chlorellaceae
Genus: Zoochlorella
K.Brandt, 1881

Zoochlorella is a genus of green algae comprising one species, Z. parasitica. The term Zoochlorella (plural zoochlorellae) is sometimes used to refer to any green algae that lives symbiotically within the body of a freshwater or marine invertebrate or protozoan. Zoochlorellae and zooxanthellae may both be found in the Pacific coast sea anemones Anthopleura elegantissima and Anthopleura xanthogrammica.

The analogy between Zoochlorella and chloroplasts has been used by the botanist Konstantin Mereschkowski in 1905 to argue about the symbiotic origin of chloroplasts (then called 'chromatophores', a term used for completely different structures today).[1]

Zoochlorellae are responsible for the greenish colour of sea anemone tentacles.

Anthopleura xanthogrammica gains its green colour from Zoochlorella


  1. ^ Martin W, and Kowallik, K V. 1999, Annnotated English translation of Mereschkowsky's 1905 paper 'Über Nature und Ursprung der Chromatophoren im Pflanzenreich'. Eur. J. Phycol., 34: 287-295. Free access to the article Archived March 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine


  • Guiry, M.D.; Guiry, G.M. (2008). "Zoochlorella". AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway. Retrieved 2009-02-21.