Sexual and asexual processes in Protoperidinium steidingerae Balech (Dinophyceae), with observations on life-history stages of Protoperidinium depressum (Bailey) Balech (Dinophyceae). Academic Article uri icon


  • A suite of morphological, histological, and molecular techniques was used to reveal for the first time division, sexuality, mandatory dormancy period of hypnozygotes, and identity of life-history stages of any Protoperidinium spp. In both Protoperidinium steidingerae and Protoperidinium depressum, asexual division occurred by eleutheroschisis within a temporary cyst, yielding two daughter cells. Daughter cells were initially round and one-half to two-thirds the size of parent cells then rapidly increased in size, forming horns before separating. Gamete production and fusion was constitutive in clonal and non-clonal cultures, indicating that both species may be homothallic. Gametes were isogamous, approximately half the size and lacking the pink pigmentation of the vegetative cells, and were never observed to feed. Gamete fusion resulted in a planozygote with two longitudinal flagella. Planozygotes of P. steidingerae formed hypnozygotes. The fate of planozygotes of P. depressum is unknown. Hypnozygotes of P. steidingerae had a mandatory dormancy period of ca. 70 days. Germination resulted in planomeiocytes with two longitudinal flagella. Nuclear cyclosis occurred in the planozygotes of P. depressum, but in the planomeiocytes of P. steidingerae. The plate tabulation and gross morphology of gametes of P. steidingerae and P. depressum differed markedly from those of vegetative cells. Thus, misidentification of morphologically distinct life-history stages and incomplete examination of thecal plate morphology in field specimens has likely led to taxonomic confusion of Protoperidinium spp. in previous studies.

publication date

  • January 2009