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Ceratium species

Ceratium species

Dinoflagellates come second to diatoms as the most important producer in the plankton. So, valuable as a food resource for plankton-feeding fish. Most have at least one flagellum coming from the body. They have a pellicle (like Euglena) under the cell membrane, contrasting with the cell wall of most algae that have a wall on the outside of the membrane.

Peridinium granii

Peridinium granii

This inner wall can be made of plates called thecae, like armour plating. Some dinoflagellates have chloroplasts and can photosynthesise but at least have the species do not and so have hetertrophic nutrition, capturing particles in the water.

With the flagella they have the ability to move quickly through water with a whip-like movement. They swim towards light using caratenoid pigments.

Reproduction is by cell division. When this occurs the thecal plates are split between the two cells so, say, the top plates go to one daughter cell and the lower plates go to the second one.


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