• diatom;
  • genetic differentiation;
  • genetic diversity;
  • genetic structure;
  • genetic variation;
  • microsatellites;
  • population genetics;
  • Pseudo-nitzschia pungens

Six microsatellite markers were used to investigate the genetic structure of North Sea Pseudo-nitzschia pungens (Grunow ex P. T. Cleve) Hasle populations. Isolates were collected on 42 separate occasions from waters surrounding the German islands of Helgoland and Sylt over the course of three sampling periods: spring 2002, spring 2003, and autumn 2003. In total, 464 isolates were genotyped, of which 453 were different (i.e. clonal diversity was 98%). The numbers of alleles per locus ranged from 6 to 24 and the observed heterozygosities from 0.59 to 0.87 (mean Ho and He were 0.73); there were no significant departures from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium at any of the six loci. Sexual reproduction therefore appears to be important in the production of genetic variation. Over the temporal and spatial scales sampled (18 months and 100 km), weak genetic differentiation was detected both within and between sampling periods (significant FST values ranged from 0.0018 to 0.0389), suggesting that the German North Sea supports a single largely unstructured population of P. pungens.