The extraordinary chemical diversity seen in the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) is especially pronounced in the ubiquitous tropical marine species, Lyngbya majuscula. The gene clusters responsible for the production of some of the secondary metabolites have recently been elucidated. The dinoflagellates, which are lower eukaryotic algae, also demonstrate chemical diversity and produce unique polycyclic ethers of polyketide origin. A new mechanism for the formation of the truncated polyketide backbones has recently been proposed. The toxicogenicity of dinoflagellates of the genus Pfiesteria has been the focus of controversy--are they 'killer organisms', as alleged? A recent investigation of Pfiesteria genes seems to rule out the presence of polyketide synthase, which is the gene responsible for the production of most dinoflagellate toxins.