• carotenoids;
  • Chattonella;
  • Dictyochophyceae;
  • harmful algae;
  • LSU rDNA;
  • new taxon;
  • phylogeny;
  • SSU rDNA;
  • ultrastructure

Since 1998, a heterokont flagellate initially named Chattonella aff. verruculosa has formed recurrent extensive blooms in the North Sea and the Skagerrak, causing fish mortalities. Cells were isolated from the 2001 bloom off the south coast of Norway, and monoalgal cultures were established and compared with the Chattonella verruculosa Y. Hara et Chihara reference strain NIES 670 from Japan. The cells in Norwegian cultured isolates were very variable in size and form, being large oblong (up to 34 μm long) to small rounded (5–9 μm in diameter) with two unequal flagella, numerous chloroplasts, and mucocysts. The SSU and partial LSU rDNA sequences of strains from Norway and Japan were compared and differed by 0.4% (SSU) and 1.3% (LSU), respectively. Five strains from Norway were identical in the LSU rDNA region. Phylogenetic analyses based on heterokont SSU and concatenated SSU + LSU rDNA sequences placed C. aff. verruculosa and the Japanese C. verruculosa within the clade of Dictyochophyceae, with the picoflagellate Florenciella parvula Eikrem as the closest relative. Ultrastructure, morphology, and pigment composition supported this affinity. We propose the name Verrucophora farcimen sp. et gen. nov. for this flagellate and systematically place it within the class Dictyochophyceae. Our studies also show that C. verruculosa from Japan is genetically and morphologically different but closely related to V. farcimen. The species is transferred from the class Raphidophyceae to the class Dictyochophyceae and renamed Verrucophora verruculosa. We propose a new order, Florenciellales, to accommodate V. farcimen, V. verruculosa, and F. parvula.