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Name derivation:

Natural whirler --[ dinos- whirling, -physis (natural]


Dinophysis  Ehrenberg  1839; 127 of 295 species descriptions are currently accepted taxonomically (Guiry and Guiry 2013).

Phalacroma is not separated frm Dinophysis in PhycoKey because the two genera have identical cellulosic plate formulae.

Order Dinophysiales;  Family Dinophysaceae

Synonym in PhycoKey:  Dinophysis



Although species size and shape varies greatly, they are laterally compressed with a small, cap-like epitheca and a much larger hypotheca. The hypotheca composes most of the cell with four large plates.

They are a photosynthetic species that contains large chloroplasts but are also have food vacuoles meaning they are also heterotrophs.

Reproduction is achieved asexually through binary fission.


Similar genera:




Marine species that is found all over the world.  This is a toxic bloom forming species, with the most notable blooms occurring during the summer and fall months. Large blooms can contain over 40,000 cells and can contaminate shellfish. D. acuminata is a producer of diarrheic shellfish poisoning (DSP) (okadaic acid) (Cembella 1989).


At least 12 species of Dinophysis are on the 'HABs Taxon list'.



Cembella A. 1989. Occurrence of okadaic acid, a major diarrheic shellfish toxin, in natural populations of Dinophysis spp. from the eastern coast of North America. J. Appl. Phycol. 1: 307-310

Ehrenberg, C.G.  1839.  Über noch jetzt zahlreich lebende Thierarten der Kreidebildung und den Organismus der Polythalamien.  Bericht über die zur Bekanntmachung geeigneten Verhandlungen der Königl. Preuß. Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1839: 152-157; 178-179.

Graham L. and L. W Wilcox  2000.  Algae. Prentice-Hall

Guiry, M.D. and G.M. Guiry   2013.  AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway.  http://www.algaebase.org; searched on 02 May 2013.