Protoperidinium claudicans

General Dinoflagellate
Shape One straight-sided top cone and two broad cones in the bottom
Size Length 50 - 105 μm, width 48 - 75 μm
Colour Varies dependent on food source, brownish when fixed in Close

Lugol's iodine solution

A solution of elemental iodine and potassium iodide in water; it was first used in 1829 by French physician Jean Lugol as a disinfectant. Lugol's iodine can be used as fixative to preserve phytoplankton samples for visual analysis at a later time (Leakey et al. 1994).

Connection None (solitary)
Covering Cellulose Close


(plural: thecae) Cell wall. In dinoflagellates, it is composed of cellulose plates within vesicles (Horner 2002).



(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.

Lifestyle Close


An organism that cannot convert inorganic carbon into a usable energy source. Instead, it consumes other organisms to obtain organic carbon for growth.

. Sexual/asexual.


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.

Information not available
Harmful effects Information not available
Habitat Coastal, Close


Of or relating to estuaries.

and oceanic
Geographic Close


Widely distributed; occurring in many parts in the world.

in temperate to tropical waters
Seasonal Spring to summer
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).

34 - 35 (optimal)
Temperature 18 - 21 °C (optimal)


Protoperidinium depressum Bailey 1854
Protoperidinium claudicans Paulsen 1907
Peridinium claudicans
Votadinium spinosum
(Kraberg et al. 2010, EOL 2012)


Empire Eukaryota
Kingdom Protozoa
Subkingdom Biciliata
Infrakingdom Alveolata
Phylum Myzozoa
Subphylum Dinoflagellata
Class Dinophyceae
Order Peridiniales
Family Protoperidiniaceae
Genus Protoperidinium
Species P. claudicans (Paulsen) Balech 1974

(Guiry and Guiry 2012)


Protoperidinium claudicans is a heterotrophic dinoflagellate (Kraberg et al. 2010). It reproduces both sexually and asexually. It has a Close


"A thick-walled dormant cell" (Horner 2002).

, which is called Votadinium spinosum Reid in micropaleontological studies, with a thin, brown cell wall (Kraberg et al. 2010). Cells feed by extruding their Close


In a eukaryotic cell, a gel-like substance within the cell membrane that contains all the organelles except for the nucleus.

out of their theca and engulfing prey items. Once it has absorbed the contents of the prey, it retracts itself back into its theca. This is called Close


(feeding) A mode of feeding used by some heterotrophic dinoflagellates. The dinoflagellate extrudes its cytoplasm, engulfing its food (often a cell or chain of cells). The food is digested outside the dinoflagellate's cell. The dinoflagellate then pulls its cytoplasm and its newly digested meal back inside its theca. This method of feeding allows dinoflagellates to eat food that is bigger than itself.

feeding (Menden-Deuer et al. 2005).


The cell theca is round in the centre (Evagelopoulos 2002). The Close


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

forms a short Close


(axis, spine) The region of the apex or point. Refers to the most anterior point or region of the cell (HPP 2003).



The apical or antapical extensions found in some armoured dinoflagellates; they contain cytoplasm, are covered in thecal plates and can be hollow or partially solid (Horner 2002).

. The Close


In thecate dinoflagellates, the posterior part of a dinokont cell above the cingulum. The equivalent of a hypocone for naked dinoflagellates.

forms two short, tubular and pointed Close


Referring to the most posterior point of a cell. The opposite of apical.

horns. The left antapical horn is always shorter than the right (Evagelopoulos 2002). The sides of the cell bulge out around the 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).



Length: 50 - 105 μm
Width: 48 - 75 μm
(Kraberg et al. 2010)

Similar species

Protoperidinium claudicans can be confused with P. oceanicum. P. oceanicum is larger and has longer, thinner apical and antapical horns (Steidinger and Tangen 1997).

Harmful effects

No known harmful effects.


P. claudicans occurs mainly in coastal and oceanic areas, though it has been reported in Close


The area where a river meets the ocean. Often characterized by high sediments, high nutrient levels, salinity fluctuations and tidal mixing.

as well (Steidinger and Tangen 1997).


This is a cosmopolitan species that is found in temperate to tropical waters (Steidinger and Tangen 1996). It has been seen in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and in the North Sea (Kraberg et al. 2010).
It is commonly seen from spring to summer (Kraberg et al. 2010).

Growth conditions

Information not available.

Environmental Ranges

Depth range (m): 0 - 109
Temperature range (°C): 18.405 - 20.934
Nitrate (μmol L-1): 0.846 - 8.908
Salinity: 33.852 - 35.624
Oxygen (mL L-1): 4.709 - 5.491
Phosphate (μmol L-1): 0.179 - 1.452

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): 1.030 - 12.403
(EOL 2012)

Bloom characteristics

Does not form blooms, but usually follows blooms of their prey (diatoms and dinoflagellates; pers. comm. D. Cassis).


Encyclopedia of Life (EOL 2012). 2012. Protoperidinium claudicans (Paulsen) Balech 1974. Accessed 27 March 2012.

Evagelopoulos, A. 2002. Taxonomic notes on Protoperidinium (Peridiniales, Dinophyceae) species in the Thermaikos Bay (North Aegean Sea, Greece). Mediterranean Marine Science. 3/2: 41-54.

Guiry, M. D. and Guiry, G. M. 2012. P. claudicans (Paulsen) Balech 1974. Accessed 27 March 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.

Menden-Deuer, S., Lessard, E. J., Satterberg, J. and Grunbaum, D. 2005. Growth rates and starvation survival of three species of the pallium-feeding, thecate dinoflagellate genus Protoperidinium. Aquatic Microbial Ecology. 41: 145-152.

Steidinger, K. A. and Tangen, K. 1997. Dinoflagellates. In: Tomas, C. R. (ed.) Identifying Marine Phytoplankton. Academic Press, Inc., San Diego. 429.

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