Dinoflagellates Meaning

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We will have a look at what are dinoflagellates. The dinoflagellates species are in the Kingdom Protista. The dinoflagellates are phototrophic organisms. They are also known as photosynthetic organisms. They are single-cell eukaryotes and are present in the phylum Dinoflagellata. Most of the dinoflagellates are marine planktons therefore they are known as dinoflagellates plankton. They are also found in freshwater habitats. Most of them are mixotrophic and some of them are considered photosynthetic. When there are changes in the temperature, salinity, and depth of the water body, the population of dinoflagellates water changes. The dinoflagellates species are the largest group of marine eukaryotes. We will learn more about what are dinoflagellates, different colours of dinoflagellates such as red dinoflagellates, and about the kingdom Protista. 


As we read above they are eukaryotes. They are unicellular in nature. They are colonial and are present without much cellular differentiation. The body organization at the tissue level is not present in these protists. They are mostly aquatic in nature. As they are eukaryotic in nature, therefore they have the presence of all kinds of membrane-bound organelles. 80S cytoplasmic ribosomes are also present in them. Some of them may also possess cellulosic cell walls. (9+2) of the microtubule, the pattern is followed by their cilia and flagella. Their cilia and flagella consist of tubulin protein. Flagella, cilia, and pseudopodia are the means by which these cells show movement. Among all these three modes, the ciliary mode is the fastest. The modes of nutrition of these protists can be photosynthetic, holozoic, saprobic, and parasitic. They also have mixotrophic nutrition. This means that they have both photosynthetic and saprobic type of nutrition as it is present in euglena. Both asexual and sexual mode of reproduction is present in them. They show two types of life cycles that are zygotic meiosis and gametic meiosis. The protists basically comprise decomposers, photosynthetic, or parasites. Dysentery, malaria, and sleeping sickness are some of the diseases that can be caused by them. They comprise diatoms, dinoflagellates, euglenoids, slime moulds, and protozoans. Now we will thoroughly learn about the dinoflagellates.

Dinoflagellates Characteristics

These features will let us know more about what are dinoflagellates. They are also known as golden brown photosynthetic protists. They belong to the class Dinophyceae. Dinophyceae is also known as Pyrrophyta. Some are present in freshwater and mostly all are present in marine forms. They have pigments present in their cells that are known as red, yellow, green, brown, or blue. Some characteristics are:

  • They are unicellular organisms. They are motile in nature and are biflagellate. Though some of their forms are non-motile in nature. 

  • They are found in both marine and freshwater. Though mostly in the marine form. 

  • Theca or lorica is a rigid coat present on their body. It consists of two or more articulated or sculptured plates of cellulose and pectin. Due to this feature, they are called armoured dinoflagellates. 

  • In their theca, they have two grooves. One is the sulcus and the other is the cingulum. The sulcus is longitudinal and the cingulum is a transverse groove. 

  • They have a heterokont flagella. This means that they are different. Their flagella pass out from the pores of the lorica and lie in the grooves. The longitudinal flagellum is narrow and the transverse flagellum is in the shape of a ribbon. Both of their flagella are present at right angles to each other. Due to this, they are also called whirling whips. These are the dinoflagellates flagella. 

  • Carbohydrates and oils are their reserve food material. 

  • Due to the presence of chlorophyll a, c and xanthophyll, they have different types of colours such as red, brown, and green. Their plastids are surrounded by 3 layered structures. 

  • Their nucleus is larger in size. They have condensed chromosomes in interphase. Their chromosomes do not have histones. At the time of cell division, their nuclear envelope and nucleolus remain present. This organization is called mesokaryon. 

  • They possess trichocysts and cnidoblast cells. These are also present in coelenterates. 

  • Pusule is a non-contractile vacuole that is present in them. It is present near the flagellar base. It takes part in floatation and osmoregulation. 

  • The most common mode of reproduction is asexual. It occurs through cell division. 

  • Some of them have reported sexual reproduction too. It is of anisogamous and isogamous type of sexual reproduction. 

  • Zygotic and gametic meiosis occurs in their life cycle.

Interesting Facts about Dinoflagellates

Some Interesting Facts about Dinoflagellates are:

  • Some of their species show bioluminescence. This means that they emit out the light. Due to their phosphorescence quality, the sea glows at night time. Red dinoflagellates cause the red sea. 

  • Gonyaulax is some of their species that produce saxitoxin. This toxin is released into the sea and is very poisonous in nature. It can kill fishes and other aquatic animals. The shellfish consumes these dinoflagellates and then accumulate this poison into its shell thus, it is not harmful to the shellfish. 

  • The red tide is caused by Gymnodinium and Gonyaulax species. These are thus known as red dinoflagellates. 

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Diatoms?

Answer: They are also a part of the Protista. They are often named protist algae. They comprise a major portion of the phytoplankton. They are microscopic in nature and are present in various colours. They are unicellular in nature and form colonies. They do not have flagella. But, in their reproductive stage, they have flagella. They are free-floating and are present on the surface of water due to their lightweight. Their cell wall is made up of two halves: epitheca and hypotheca. The epitheca covers the hypotheca. It resembles the shape of a soapbox. Their cell wall has a presence of cellulose and this makes their cell wall transparent in nature. They are a pennate and centric type of symmetry. Their resting spores are known as statospores. 

2. What do You Understand about Diatomaceous Earth?

Answer: This phenomenon is exhibited by diatoms. As the shells of the diatoms have silica, so they are almost indestructible. These are accumulated at the sea bed. These form some huge rock-like deposits and this is diatomaceous earth. They are rough and gritty in nature. They are also used in filters in the brewing industries.