Dinoflagellate genome evolution

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2011;65:369-87. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-090110-102841.


The dinoflagellates are an ecologically important group of microbial eukaryotes that have evolved many novel genomic characteristics. They possess some of the largest nuclear genomes among eukaryotes arranged on permanently condensed liquid-crystalline chromosomes. Recent advances have revealed the presence of genes arranged in tandem arrays, trans-splicing of messenger RNAs, and a reduced role for transcriptional regulation compared to other eukaryotes. In contrast, the mitochondrial and plastid genomes have the smallest gene content among functional eukaryotic organelles. Dinoflagellate biology and genome evolution have been dramatically influenced by lateral transfer of individual genes and large-scale transfer of genes through endosymbiosis. Next-generation sequencing technologies have only recently made genome-scale analyses of these organisms possible, and these new methods are helping researchers better understand the biology and evolution of this enigmatic group of eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Dinoflagellida / classification
  • Dinoflagellida / genetics*
  • Dinoflagellida / microbiology
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Genome, Mitochondrial
  • Genome, Protozoan*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plastids / genetics