What are dinoflagellates?


The dinoflagellates (Greek δῖνος dinos "whirling" and Latin flagellum "whip, scourge") are a large group of flagellate protists. Most are marine plankton, but they are common in fresh water habitats, as well. Their populations are distributed depending on temperature, salinity, or depth. Many dinoflagellates are known to be photosynthetic, but a large fraction of these are in fact mixotrophic, combining photosynthesis with ingestion of prey. Dinoflagellates are the largest group of marine eukaryotes aside from the diatoms. Being primary producers makes them an important part of the aquatic food chain. Some species, called zooxanthellae, are endosymbionts of marine animals and play an important part in the biology of coral reefs. Other dinoflagellates are colorless predators on other protozoa, and a few forms are parasitic (see for example Oodinium, Pfiesteria). Some dinoflagellates produce resting stages, called dinoflagellate cysts or dinocysts, as part of their life cycles.

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Some articles on dinoflagellates:

Dinoflagellate - Bioluminescence
... an appearance of sparkling light due to the bioluminescence of dinoflagellates ... More than 18 genera of dinoflagellates are bioluminescent, and the majority of them (including Gonyaulax) emit a blue-green wavelength ... Dinoflagellates can use bioluminescence as a defense mechanism ...
Carnivorous Protist
... Predatory dinoflagellates are predatory heterotrophic or mixotrophic alveolate protists that derive some or most of their nutrients from digesting other organisms ... About one half of dinoflagellates lack photosynthetic pigments and specialize in consuming other eukaryotic cells, and even photosynthetic forms are often ... Polykrikos kofoidii, which feeds on several species of red-tide and/or toxic dinoflagellates, Ceratium furca, which is primarily photosynthetic but also capable of ...
... The Syndiniales are an order of dinoflagellates, found exclusively as endosymbionts of the tintinnid ciliates, crustaceans, fish, protozoa, algae, and other ... form motile spores, which have two flagella in typical dinoflagellate arrangement ... A well-studied example is Amoebophrya, which is a parasite of other dinoflagellates and may play a part in ending red tides ...