Field of Science

Sunday Protist -- Gymnodinium catenatum: Like beads on a string

I'm going to be genuinely lazy today. Seriously cannot go off on a 3h literature journey looking at random protists with an invert zool final happening so very soon (Monday). Even though the instructor is actually a protistologist. Maybe his final will let me ramble about choanoflagellates somewhere...

Today we have some random dinoflagellates; well, not as much random as rather 'typical' for the group, although with an interesting tendency to form long chains, which is not so typical. Meet Gymnodinium catenatum, a concatenated naked dinoflagellate:
Gymnodinium is photosynthetic, and has an unfortunate side effect of producing chemicals humans and other animals find toxic. Despite the occasional public mania on the topic, not all dinoflagellates do this, and those who do didn't really mean to, and would perhaps even write a letter of apology were they capable of and interested in such a thing. Also, algal blooms have been happening for millions of years and are not a 'new' thing by any means. Just that nobody 'noticed' until we came alone and started writing about it. That said, harmful algal blooms are an important research topic, but probably the efforts should be directed to finding antidotes and other medical solutions to the problem, and educating the public instead of causing panic, rather than naive attempts at eradicating blooms altogether. But that's just my entirely non-expert opinion. Yeah, I personally don't find that topic particularly fascinating, and am kind of annoyed by the majority of dinoflagellate papers seeming to be about their toxicity and blooms instead of their biology and evolutionary history. Meh.

Seriously, look how cute dinos are! There's quite a few extreme oddities in the group as well, and I'll leave them for later. Previously, I've touched on the morphologically awesome dinophysis, ferocious palium-feeding Protoperidinium that eats things bigger than itself, and Ceratium which grows plastid-filled 'fingers' during the day and retracts the plastids and fingers during the night. I still haven't touched on the really weird stuff though! It shall happen eventually...

Ok, back to dreading finals and life in general. Just two weeks. I can do this...I think.

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