Friday, October 24, 2014Register
 Symbiodinium

Image of Dinoflagellate under microscope, (Symbiodinium spp.), courtesy of NOAA
Symbiodinium spp. [Image: Scott Santos, NOAA]

Symbiodinium is a group of zooxanthellate dinoflagellates. This group is comprised of photosynthetic algae that live inside most reef-building corals, providing food for the coral in exchange for a protected environment


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 Phylum: Dinoflagellata (Dinoflagellates)**

Image of Karenia brevis, courtesy of Bob Andersen and D.J. Patterson, Tree of Life
Karenia brevis [Photo: Bob Andersen and D.J. Patterson, Tree of Life]

Dinoflagellates are unicellular flagellated protists.  Ninety percent of dinoflagellates exist as marine plankton; the Gulf of Mexico has 644 different documented taxa. Dinoflagellate are usually microscopic, but can grow up to 2 mm in size.  Dinoflagellates are either photosynthetic or feed on diatoms and other protists.  Dinoflagellates are the second most important primary producer in marine ecosystems after diatoms. Some species of dinoflagellata have a mutualistic relationship with reef-building corals, who rely almost exclusively on dinoflagellates for food.

Dinoflagellates are responsible for the "red tide" phenomenon seen periodically in the Gulf.  This occurs in the summer when there are large population blooms of dinoflagellates caused by warm temperatures and excess surface nutrients.  The species, Karenia brevis, is one of the most well-known harmful dinoflagellates.  This species creates blooms which are neurotoxic, leading to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) in humans through consumption of infected fish or shellfish.

(Information from Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota: Volume 1, Biodiversity, Texas A&M University Press 2009).

**Note: Due to lack of data Gulf of Mexico Dinoflagellates are not included in the associated mapping application.

Other Resources:

UC Berkeley, Museum of Paleontology, Dinoflagellates


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 Alexandrium

Image of dinoflagellate under microscope, (Alexandrium acatanella), courtesy of Marine Species Identification Portal, Harmful Marine Dinoflagellates
Alexandrium acatanella [Image: Harmful Marine Dinoflagellates, ETI Bioinformatics

Alexandrium acatanella is another dinoflagellate species responsible for the red tide phenomenon.  This species produces toxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP).


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