• Question: How do dinoflagellates affect our planet?

    Asked by Erika Pajimna ❤ to Sebastian on 4 Nov 2016.
    • Photo: Sebastian Gornik

      Sebastian Gornik answered on 4 Nov 2016:

      This is a very nice question :-).

      Here my brief answer:

      Dinoflagellates are an important group of single celled plankton in the world’s oceans. They are in fact the most abundant single celled organisms in the marine environment and important primary producers in the food web. About half of the dinoflagellates are photosynthetic, that mean they harvest sun light to produce energy. The other half either is predatory or parasitic.

      Dinoflagellates are also important symbionts of corals and without them most corals can not live. When we refer to coral bleaching in response to climate change we actually refer to the dinoflagellates symbionts that live in them. When the water gets too warm the dinoflagellates leave the coral and then the corals appear white because their color actually comes from dinoflagelate colour pigments and not the coral’s own bodies. If the water stays too warm for to long the dinoflagellates do not come back and eventually the corals die out.

      Some dinoflagellates can produce large blooms in the oceans in response to environmental changes. These blooms are sometimes called ‘Red tides’ when a particular dinoflagellate species called Karenia brevis causes the bloom.During such blooms some dinoflagelates species also produce toxins which can cause mass fish killings and other environmental problems.

      I hope this gave you a little insight in how dinoflagellates affect our planet and us? However, there is much more to discover about dinoflagellates. If you want to read even more about them you can start here: