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Taxon Biology

The dinoflagellates are an important group of phytoplankton (microscopic free-floating photosynthetic organisms) in both marine and fresh waters. They may occur as swimming, solitary cells or as nonmotile symbionts of various invertertebrates such as corals. Many are photosynthetic, but many others are not. Most of the photosynthetic species share certain types of pigment, including several pigments apparently found only in dinoflagellates. Numerous other aspects of the cell biology and genetics of dinoflagellates are unusual as well (reviewed in Hackett et al. 2004 and Wong and Kwok 2005). Some dinoflagellates produce toxins that may harm a wide variety of vertebrates and invertebrates (see Relevance). A large group of photosynthetic dinoflagellates are endosymbionts on which many corals and other invertebrates depend for their survival (see Associations).

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