a blue dinoflagellate: Balechina coerulea ?

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Franz Neidl
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a blue dinoflagellate: Balechina coerulea ?

Post by Franz Neidl »

Again a surprice for me: In seawater-plankton I found a blue dinoflagellate!
I think this is Balechina coerulea (syn.: Gymnodinium coeruleum). Please confirm the diagnosis!
I can't understand the biological function of this blue colour! How to explain it?

137 µm long, 40 obj. DIC,
5 pictures







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Post by RogelioMoreno »

I can not confirm the ID; but the specimen is beautiful. I also would like to know why the blue color.


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Post by leonardturner »

I have no idea of function, but it is a beautiful shade of blue, reminiscent of copper sulfate crystals.


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Post by Jacek »


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Post by René »

Nice find! It certainly looks like it (but I have never seen it with my own eyes). Don't know whether there actually is a function for the blue colour. My first thought is, what does it eat? Plenty of blue pigments around, my guess would be for the carotenoid family. Those are fat soluble, ending up in the rows of vesicles/globules internally along the ridges. Slight changes in the molecular structure during transport give rise to different shades, so not even it's food would need to be blue from the outset.

Best wishes, René

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Post by BJ »

hello Franz,

I am envious (once more) - what a great organism and beautiful photos. I am sure that your ID is correct. Did you know that it was first described from the Bay of Naples ( by Dogiel as Gymnodinium coeruleum in 1906).

The blue colour is strange. I am reminded of the blue pigment marennine which is found in the diatom Haslea (Navicula) ostrearia. Marennine is a polyphenol. The function of marennine in the diatom is unclear, but it does have significant anti-bacterial activity. Also as a polyphenol, it has very significant absorption in the UV and therefore would have a UVprotective action.

.... but back to your dinoflagellate....this blue pigment may be completely different molecule - I do not think that anyone knows.

thank you for another fascinating post,



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Post by Gerd »

Dear Franz,
a really rare find, beautifully documented, wonderful !
Thank you for sharing,

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