• diarrhetic shellfish poisoning;
  • phylogenetics;
  • Prorocentrum;
  • protists;
  • rDNA;
  • sand dwelling;
  • systematics


Species of prorocentroid dinoflagellates are common in marine benthic sediment and epibenthic habitats, as well as in planktonic habitats. Marine planktonic prorocentroids typically possess a small spine in the apical region. In this study, we describe a new, potentially widely distributed benthic species of Prorocentrum, P. fukuyoi sp. nov., from tidal sand habitats in several sites in Australia and from central Japan. This species was found to possess an apical spine or flange and was sister species to P. emarginatum. We analyzed the phylogeny of the group including this new species, based on large subunit (LSU) rDNA sequences. The genus contained a high level of divergence in LSU rDNA, in some cases among sister taxa. P. fukuyoi and P. emarginatum were found to be most closely related to a clade of generally planktonic taxa. Several morphological features may constitute more informative synapomorphies than habitat in distinguishing clades of prorocentroid species.