Abstract Most photosynthetic eukaryotes synthesize both heme and chlorophyll via a common tetrapyrrole biosynthetic pathway starting from glutamate. This pathway was derived mainly from cyanobacterial predecessor of the plastid and differs from the heme synthesis of the plastid-lacking eukaryotes. Here, we show that the coral-associated alveolate Chromera velia, the closest known photosynthetic relative to Apicomplexa, possesses a tetrapyrrole pathway that is homologous to the unusual pathway of apicomplexan parasites. We also demonstrate that, unlike other eukaryotic phototrophs, Chromera synthesizes chlorophyll from glycine and succinyl-CoA rather than glutamate. Our data shed light on the evolution of the heme biosynthesis in parasitic Apicomplexa and photosynthesis-related biochemical processes in their ancestors.