Toxic marine dinoflagellate (Karenia brevis) , SEM

Toxic marine dinoflagellate (Karenia brevis) , SEM

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Credit: DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of toxic marine dinoflagellate (Karenia brevis). Karenia brevis (previously known as Gymnodinium breve and Ptychodiscus brevis) causes an algal bloom known as toxic red tide. Dinoflagellates are microscopic, unicellular, flagellated, often photosynthetic protists (algae). K. brevis is a gymnodinioid dinoflagellate with an equatorial groove or girdle containing one flagellum (undulating flagellum) and a second flagellum that trails behind the cell. This dinoflagellate produces a toxin called brevetoxin, which affects the central nervous system of fish. People can become ill with neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP) when they eat shellfish that have accumulated brevetoxin and can also experience respiratory irritation when a red tide bloom is present close to shore. Magnification: x1,065 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.

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