The structure of the theca of some 30 marine and freshwater members of the Dinophyceae has been examined by light and electron microscopy. The basic arrangement of membranes, an outer continuous plasma-membrane beneath which lies a single layer of flattened vesicles, is the same in all flagellated forms. The periplast of coccoid and encysted forms is somewhat different. Thecae have been found to fall into eight reasonably distinct categories as follows: (1) Outer membrane underlain by irregular vesicles. (2) Membrane underlain by close-packed vesicles. (3) As Group 2 but with plug-like structures attached to the inner membrane of the vesicles. (4) As Group 2 but with thin plates within the vesicles and all plates of more or less similar shape. (5) As Group 4 but plates have slight overlap. (6) Similar to Group 5 but plates are reduced in number and can be individually recognized. (7) As Group 6 but plates have elaborate flanges and their surfaces are covered by reticulations. (8) Theca mainly consisting of only two plates.
It is suggested that the thecal types could from the basis for some revision of the taxonomy of the class.