UMR 1931, CNRS and Laboratoires Goemar, Station Biologique, 29680 Roscoff, France. Marine algae encompass lineages that diverged about one billion years ago. Recent results suggest that they feature natural immunity traits that are conserved, as well as others that appear to be phylum- or environment-specific. In particular, marine plants resemble terrestrial plants and animals in their basic mechanisms for pathogen recognition and signaling, suggesting that these essential cell functions arose in the sea. Specific traits are based on the synthesis of unique secondary defense metabolites, often making use of the variety of halides found in the sea.