• brevetoxin;
  • Gymnodinium;
  • Karenia;
  • morphology;
  • NSP

Three new dinoflagellate species, Karenia papilionacea sp. nov., Karenia selliformis sp. nov., and Karenia bidigitata sp. nov., were compared with the toxic species Karenia mikimotoi (Miyake & Kominami ex Oda) G. Hansen & Moestrup, Karenia brevis (Davis) G. Hansen & Moestrup, and Karenia brevisulcata (Chang) G. Hansen & Moestrup using the same fixative. Distinguishing morphological characters for the genus Karenia included a smooth theca and a linear apical groove. The new species can be distinguished on the basis of morphological characters of vegetative cells that include the location and shape of the nucleus; the relative excavation of the hypotheca; the characteristics of apical and sulcal groove extensions on the epitheca; the cellular shape, size, and symmetry; the degree of dorsoventral compression; and the presence of an apical protrusion or carina. Species with pronounced dorsoventral compression swim in a distinctive fluttering motion. An intercingular tubular structure traversing the proximal and distal ends of the cingulum is common to the species of Karenia, Karlodinium micrum (Leadbeater & Dodge) J. Larsen, Gymnodinium pulchellum J. Larsen, and Gyrodinium corsicum Paulmier. Molecular phylogenetic analyses of rDNA sequence alignments show that the new species are phylogenetically distinct but closely related to K. mikimotoi and K. brevis.