|Description:||This 1971 image depicted a frontal view of a Petri dish culture in which a small colony of Prototheca wickerhamii algal organisms had been cultivated.|
P. wickerhamii is known to be the cause of the disease protothecosis. Though classified as a green algae, Prototheca spp. are achlorophyllic, which means that they lack chlorophyll. P. wickerhamii is a member of the family Chlorellaceae.
Protothecosis mainly affects animals including dogs and cats, but can affect human beings as well, with members P. wickerhamii and P. zopfii being the main causal agents. When an immunocompromised individual becomes infected, as in the case of an AIDS patient, or patients undergoing chemotherapy, a cutaneous infection, i.e., located in the skin, can become disseminated throughout the body.