Prasinoxanthin is absent in the green-colored dinoflagellate Lepidodinium chlorophorum strain NIES-1868: pigment composition and 18S rRNA phylogeny

J Plant Res. 2012 Nov;125(6):705-11. doi: 10.1007/s10265-012-0486-6. Epub 2012 Mar 23.


Green-colored plastids in the dinoflagellates Lepidodinium chlorophorum and L. viride have been widely believed as the remnant of an endosymbiotic prasinophyte. This hypothesis for the origin of the Lepidodinium plastids is solely based on an unpublished result quoted in Elbrächter and Schnepf (Phycologia 35:381-393, 1996) hinting at the presence of a characteristic carotenoid in prasinophytes, prasinoxanthin, in the L. chlorophorum cells. On the other hand, a recent work failed to detect prasinoxanthin in a culture of L. chlorophorum. Unfortunately, we cannot conduct any additional experiments to examine whether the two strains considered in the previous studies are truly of L. chlorophorum, as neither of the two strains is publicly available. We here investigated the pigment composition of L. chlorophorum strain NIES-1868 maintained as a mono-algal culture under laboratory conditions, and detected no sign of prasinoxanthin. The pigment composition of strain NIES-1868 is consistent with previous phylogenetic analyses based on plastid-encoded genes of the same strain, which successfully excluded prasinoxanthin-containing algae from the origin of the L. chlorophorum plastid. We also determined nucleus-encoded 18S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes from four Lepidodinium strains (including strain NIES-1868). Analyses of 18S rRNA sequences showed an extremely close relationship among strain NIES-1868 and other Lepidodinium cells/strains originating from different geological locations, suggesting that the cells/strains corresponding to these rRNA sequences lack prasinoxanthin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Carotenoids / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / chemistry
  • Carotenoids / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Dinoflagellida / chemistry*
  • Dinoflagellida / classification
  • Dinoflagellida / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genes, Protozoan
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Phylogeny*
  • Plastids / chemistry
  • Plastids / genetics
  • RNA, Protozoan / analysis*
  • RNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / analysis
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Species Specificity


  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • prasinoxanthin
  • Carotenoids