Programmed Cell Death in Dinoflagellates

  • María Segovia
Part of the Molecular Biology Intelligence Unit book series (MBIU)


Dinoflagellates are unicellular flagellated eukaryotes exploiting different nutritional modes although approximately half of them are photosynthetic. They are a monophyletic group, included in the lineage Alveolates. Dinoflagellates are ecologically important as components of the phytoplankton and contribute significantly to CO2 fixation and primary productivity in the oceans. As well, they can form blooms (densities of more than a million cells per millilitre) producing red and brown tides. Recently the possible role of programmed cell death (PCD) in phytoplankton has received much attention because massive cell disappearance of species as a consequence of cell death have important consequences in the ocean dynamics. Several species of phytoplankters undergo PCD, apparently using the same core mechanism as metazoans. However, dinoflagellates show different PCD morphologies (apoptotic, necrotic, necrotic-like and paraptotic) depending on the species and on the triggering factor, probably due to their mesokaryotic condition. Similarly to metazoans, PCD in this group goes through intermediates such as ROS, and the proteins in charge of executing the cell are metacaspases (cysteinyl aspartate proteases from the caspase family, found in yeast, plants, protists and some bacteria). The acquisition of the PCD genes in these organisms goes back to ancient times when the endosymbiotic events took place. However, the intriguing point is the gene persistence through evolution, given that such genes provide the cell with negative selective pressure.


Coral Reef Possible Role Ofprogrammed Cell Death Coral Bleaching Cell Death Differ Brown Tide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de EcologíaFacultad de Ciencias-Universidad de MálagaMálagaSpain

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