Dinoflagellates •
Kingdom Protista
Belong to the division Dinophyta
Phylum dinoflagellata
Are part of phytoplankton
Of the 12,000 species most are marine and
photosynthetic but a few ingest bits of food
• Primary production is second only to diatoms
• Sometimes more abundant than diatoms
• Unicellular eukaryotes
• One flagella encircles the cell in groove and the
other is free. The two unequal flagella cause a
spiraling swimming motion.
Most cells are armored with plates (tabulation),
which may have spine, pores, and other
Contains several chloroplast
Reproduction is mostly asexual (mitosis).
• “Blooms” - buildup
neurotoxins in food chain Biomagnification = “red tides”
effect nervous system and
lung function. Can kill fish and
shell fish and even humans.
Saxitoxin (100,000 x more
potent then cocaine) and
Brevitoxin are examples. Shell
fish should be eaten in
months with “R” in them - not
May thru August.
Some species are bioluminescent - light is
released when luciferin is broken down and
the energy is released as light.
May be used to scare predators, distract predators, or even
attract predators of the predators.
redtide event in Carlsbad Ca.
watch video
Video-Marine Bioluminescence:
Secret lights in the Sea
Ostracod Crustacean Demo!
Luciferin is a pigment that is
catalyzed by the enzyme
Luciferase to generate light.
Bioluminescing ostracod
crustaceans are native to the Sea
of Japan.The crustaceans live on
the bottom during the day then
come to the surface to feed at
night. During WWII Japanese
soldiers used the dried ostracods
to read maps at night.
Dinoflagellates like zooxanthellae have
symbiotic mutualistic relationships with:
Coral, Sponges, and Anemones