Is Karenia a synonym of Asterodinium-Brachidinium?(Gymnodiniales, Dinophyceae)
From material collected in open waters of the NW and Equatorial Pacific Ocean the detailed morphology of brachidiniaceans based on two specimens of Asterodinium gracile is reported for the first time. SEM observations showed that the straight apical groove, the morphological characters and orientation of the cell body were similar to those described for species of Karenia. Brachidinium and Asterodinium showed high morphological variability in the length of the extensions and intermediate specimens with Karenia. Karenia-like cells that strongly resemble Brachidinium and Asterodinium but lacking the extensions co-occurred with the typical specimens. The life cycle and morphology of Karenia papilionacea should be investigated under natural conditions because of the strong similarity with the brachidiniaceans.