Press release

The Microalga Lingulodinium polyedrum Illuminates The Sea

Blue bioluminescence caused by blooms of Lingulodinium polyedrum in surface waters near San Diego on the Californian coast in 2011. Photo: With kind permission by Christopher J. Wills, University of California , San Diego

Phycologists have chosen a new alga of the year: the unicellular alga Lingulodinium polyedrum. This dinoflagellate has an armoured plate and two flagella and fascinates not only scientists but also seafarers and beach walkers as is capable of illuminating the sea at night with a bluish light. Algal scientists who are organized in the German Phycological Section of the German Botanical Society want to honour this special algal species. Dr Mona Hoppenrath from the German Centre for Marine Biodiversity (DZMB) at the marine section of the Senckenberg Institute explains this fascinating feature: the species has the ability to auto-luminesce, possesses a distinct diurnal rhythm and can be used as a sensor for water quality.

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Press release

More images of the alga Lingulodinium polyedrum

Chloroplasts containing peridin make Lingulodinium polyedrum appear orange-brown under the light microscope. The unicells photosynthesize utilising light energy. Photo: © Mona Hoppenrath, Senckenberg am Meer, DZMB - Deutsches Zentrum für Marine Biodiversitätsforschung

Photos of the press release "Alga of the Year 2013: The Microalga Lingulodinium polyedrum Illuminates The Sea


Use of the images is only permitted in connection with reporting on the topic ‘alga of the year 2013’ and only if the photographers are acknowledged in the format: first name, second name, institution. Commercial use of the images is not permitted.

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Contacts for the media

PD Dr. Mona Hoppenrath

Expert for familiar reletionaships among Dinoflagellates

Senckenberg am Meer, DZMB - Deutsches Zentrum für Marine Biodiversitätsforschung, Südstrand 44, D-26382 Wilhelmshaven

Phone: ++49 (0)4421 - 9475-116 (Büro)
or ++49 (0)4421 - 9475-117 (Labor)

E-mail: mhoppenrath[at]  

Dr. Regine Jahn

Deputy sepaker of the Phycology Section

Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Freie Universität Berlin, Königin-Luise-Straße 6-8, D-14195 Berlin

Tel.: ++49 (0)30 - 838-50142

E-mail: r.jahn[at] 

Prof. Dr. Maria Mittag

Expert for molecularbiology of day and night rhythms of L. polyedrum and the green alga Chlamydomonas and member of the Section's board

Institut für Allgemeine Botanik und Pflanzenphysiologie, Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena, Am Planetarium 1, D-07743 Jena

Tel.: ++49 (0)3641 – 949 201

E-mail: M.Mittag[at]

Further Information

Members of the Phycology Section (Algology) ("> conduct research on algae and investigate, amongst others, taxonomical, ecological, physiological and molecular topics on macro- and microalgae. The Section promotes algal research and supports young scientists. The Section is one of five subject-specific Sections of the German Society for Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG,

Text: Dr. Esther Schwarz-Weig:">
Translation: Dr. Dagmar Stengel: National University of Ireland, Galway