;Caption: Toxic heterotrophic dinoflagellate - Pfiesteria piscidica. Pfiesteria is a genus of heterotrophic dinoflagellates that has been associated with harmful algal blooms (toxic bloom, red tide), fish kills and causing health problems in humans. It differs from most known toxin producing algae in that it does not produce a pigment and thus gives no visual evidence of its activity. A complex life cycle of 'Pfiesteria complex organisms (PCOs) has been claimed to be responsible for large fish kills in the 1980s and 1990s on the East Coast of the United States. Early research suggested that a complex life cycle of up to 24 stages (cyst, several amoeboid stages, toxic zoospores) occurred for Pfiesteria piscidica but additional research shows that the life cycle is a simple haplonic life cycle. Pfiesteria biology and the role of PCOs in killing fish and causing health issues in humans have been subject to controversies and conflicting research results. Recently a number of researchers in both government and university laboratories have isolated and characterized the toxin of Pfiesteria piscidica as a metal complex and free radical toxin. They have also identified how the dinoflagellate transforms from a non-toxic to toxic state. Pfiesteria was discovered in 1988 by researchers JoAnn Burkholder and Ed Noga and was named after an early dinoflagellate researcher, Lois Ann Pfiester.
Magnification*: x2,135
Type: SEM
Copyright 2010 Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.
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