Amphidinium carterae

General Dinoflagellate
Shape Oval or tongue shaped
Size Length 7 - 10 μm, width 12 - 17 μm
Colour Reddish-brown with translucent areas
Connection None (solitary)
Covering None Close


(dinoflagellates) Describes a cell without a theca, i.e., without cellulose walls (Hoppenrath and Saldarriaga 2010).



(plural: flagella) A tail-like projection that sticks out from the cell body and enables movement.



An organelle in the cell that contains the cell pigments (Horner 2002). This is where photosynthesis occurs. A chloroplast is a specialized chromatophore.

One large chloroplast
Lifestyle Close


An organism that can use inorganic materials for primary production of complex organic compounds by practicing photosynthesis or chemosynthesis. For example, plants are autotrophic organisms.



A rapid increase or accumulation of algal populations in an aquatic system. This will likely involve one or a few dominant phytoplankton species. This follows seasonal patterns (i.e., spring, summer or fall bloom) with dominant species being those that are best adapted to the environmental conditions of that time period. Discolouration of the water may be observed because of the algae's pigmentation. Blooms are often green but may be yellow-brown or red depending on the species present.

Does not normally form blooms
Harmful effects May produce ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) in tropical waters
Habitat Coastal and Close


Of or relating to estuaries.

Geographic Close


Widely distributed; occurring in many parts in the world.

in both tropical and temperate waters
Seasonal Spring
Growth Conditions


The dissolved ion content of a body of water. Can be measured in the following units: parts per thousand (PPT or ‰), practical salinity units (PSU), and absolute salinity (g/kg). PPT is measured by weight, denoting the number of parts salt per thousand total parts or a value of 10-3. PSU measures the conductivity of saltwater and compares it in a ratio to a standard KCl solution (because this is a ratio, salinity measured in this way can also be written without units). The newest unit of salinity is absolute salinity, which uses the mass fraction of salt in seawater (g salt per kg seawater) rather than its conductivity (TEOS-20 2010).

30 - 34
Temperature -2 - 9 °C


Amphidinium microcephalum R. E. Norris 1961
Amphidinium klebsii 1937
(Kraberg et al. 2010)


Empire Eukaryota
Kingdom Protozoa
Subkingdom Biciliata
Infrakingdom Alveolata
Phylum Myzozoa
Subphylum Dinoflagellata
Class Dinophyceae
Order Gymnodiniales
Family Gymnodiniaceae
Genus Amphidinium
Species A. carterae Hulburt 1957

(Guiry and Guiry 2012)


Amphidinium carterae is a Close


The chemical process by which light energy, water and carbon dioxide are combined to produce oxygen and organic compounds. Photoautotrophic organisms (plants and algae) use this reaction to produce their own food.

dinoflagellate (Kraberg et al. 2010). It reproduces both sexually and asexually (Hansen et al. 2011).


Amphidinium carterae is very small in size and has a length varying between 12 and 17 μm and width between 7 and 10 μm. It has an oval cell with Close


Relating to the back portion of the cell; opposite to the ventral side.

- Close


Relating to the underside of an organism; abdominal.

compressed body (Montagnes 2006). It is an athecate species and the Close


In naked dinoflagellates, the anterior part of a dinokont cell above the cingulum. The equivalent of an epitheca for thecate dinoflagellates.

is crescent or tongue shaped in ventral view (Baig et al. 2006). The cell has one large peripherally placed chloroplast with a centrally located Close


Any of various protein granules that can be found in the chloroplast of some algae species. It is associated with the production of starch.

(Montagnes 2006). The cell Close


(plural: nuclei) In eukaryotic cells, a membrane-bound organelle that contains the cell's genetic information; the nucleus controls the activities of the cell by controlling gene expression.

is large and is located in the Close


The back end of a cell. Opposite of anterior.

part of the cell (Montagnes 2006). Cell Close


(dinoflagellates) "In dinokont dinoflagellates, a furrow encircling the cell one or many times" (Horner 2002). It is also known as the girdle or transverse groove and may be located at, above, or below the midpoint of the cell with the left and right ends meeting or displaced form one another (Horner 2002). In diatoms, this term describes the collective elements of a diatom girdle: "The cingulum is made up of delicate silica bands that join the two valves of a frustule. Most diatoms possess a cingulum, although some may not" (Spaulding et al. 2010).

surrounds the epicone and has a v-shape in ventral view (Montagnes 2006). The cell epicone has a finger-like projection (hook) (Kraberg et al. 2010).


Length: 12 - 17 μm
Width: 7 - 10 μm
(Kraberg et al. 2010)

Similar species


Harmful effects

Amphidinium carterae produces ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP; Montagnes 2006).


Amphidinium carterae is found in coastal and estuarine waters (Montagnes 2006) and is common in association with sandy beaches. It is a Close


The ecological zone at the bottom of a body of water.

dinoflagellate that occurs in association with brown seaweeds (Baig et al. 2006).


It is a cosmopolitan species found in tropical and temperate waters (Montagnes 2006).
Present throughout the year in low numbers in British Columbia. It was seen in spring blooms in North Arabia Sea (Baig et al. 2006)

Growth conditions

Information not available.

Environmental Ranges

Depth range (m): 0 - 180
Temperature range (°C): -1.776 - 8.891
Nitrate (μmol L-1): 1.130 - 7.803
Salinity: 30.358 - 34.847
Oxygen (mL L-1): 6.661 - 8.884
Phosphate (μmol L-1): 0.254 - 0.680

Silicic acid

A general term to describe chemical compounds containing silicon, oxygen and hydrogen with a general formula of [SiOx(OH)4-2x]n. Diatoms polymerize silicic acid into biogenic silica to form their frustules (Azam and Chisholm 1976).

(μmol L-1): 1.973 - 10.195
(EOL 2012)

Bloom characteristics

It was found to bloom in April in rocky intertidal pools inhabited by brown seaweed in the North Arabian Sea (Baig et al. 2006). Does not normally produce blooms in British Columbia.


Baig, H. S., Saifullah, S. M. and Dar, A. 2006. Occurrence and toxicity of Amphidinium carterae Hulburt in the North Arabian Sea. Harmful Algae. 5(1): 133 - 140.

Encylopedia of Life (EOL). 2012. Amphidinium carterae Hulburt 1957. Accessed 26 April 2012.

Guiry, M. D. and Guiry, G. M. 2012. Amphidinium carterae Hulburt 1957. Accessed 26 April 2012.

Hansen, G., Moestrup, O. and Brandt, S. 2011. Amphidinium carterae Hulburt 1957. Accessed 26 April 2012.

Kraberg, A., Baumann, M. and Durselen, C. D. 2010. Coastal Phytoplankton Photo Guide for Northern European Seas. Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, Munchen, Germany. 203.

Montagnes, D. 2006. Guide to Harmful Phytoplankton. Accessed 26 April 2012.

a place of mind, The Univeristy of British Columbia

UBC Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences,
2020 - 2207 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4.
 |  Legal |  Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Emergency Procedures  | Accessibility  | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia