Noctiluca(redirected from noctilucae)
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a genus of protozoa of the class Mastigophora of the order Dinoflagellata. The spherical body is 2 to 3 mm in diameter and has a mobile, contractive flagellum. The animal reproduces by mitosis or by forming small buds, about 20 μm long, on the body surface. The cytoplasm is filled with fatty substances that oxidize and glow when irritated chemically or mechanically. (Experiments have shown that the substances react similarly to electric stimuli.) The Noctiluca are among the principal organisms that cause luminescence of the sea. They form clusters on the surface of warm or, less frequently, boreal waters. In the USSR the organisms are found in the Black Sea and the seas of the Far East.