• acrobase;
  • Amphidinium s.l.;
  • A. semilunatum;
  • benthic;
  • dinoflagellates;
  • LSU rDNA;
  • SSU rDNA;
  • taxonomy

The classical athecate dinoflagellate genera (Amphidinium, Gymnodinium, Gyrodinium) have long been recognized to be polyphyletic. Amphidinium sensu lato is the most diverse of all marine benthic dinoflagellate genera; however, following the redefinition of this genus ∼100 species remain now of uncertain or unknown generic affiliation. In an effort to improve our taxonomic and phylogenetic understanding of one of these species, namely Amphidinium semilunatum, we re-investigated organisms from several distant sites around the world using light and scanning electron microscopy and molecular phylogenetic methods. Our results enabled us to describe this species within a new heterotrophic genus, Ankistrodinium. Cells of A. semilunatum were strongly laterally flattened, rounded-quadrangular to oval in lateral view, and possessed a small asymmetrical epicone. The sulcus was wide and characteristically deeply incised on the hypocone running around the antapex and reaching the dorsal side. The straight acrobase with hook-shaped end started at the sulcal extension and continued onto the epicone. The molecular phylogenetic results clearly showed that A. semilunatum is a distinct taxon and is only distantly related to species within the genus Amphidinium sensu stricto. The nearest sister group to Ankistrodinium could not be reliably determined.