BIOGEOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF THE GLOBALLY DISTRIBUTED HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOM SPECIES ALEXANDRIUM MINUTUM (DINOPHYCEAE) BASED ON rRNA GENE SEQUENCES AND MICROSATELLITE MARKERS1

Authors


  • 1

    Received 27 November 2007. Accepted 13 October 2008.

Abstract

The toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum Halim is one of three species that comprise the “minutum” species complex. This complex is notable due to its role in the etiology of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Recent increases in PSP incidence and the geographic expansion of toxin-producing Alexandrium dinoflagellates have prompted the intensive examination of genetic relationships among globally distributed strains to address questions regarding their present distribution and reasons for their apparent increase. The biogeography of A. minutum was studied using large subunit ribosomal DNA gene (LSU rRNA) and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences and genotypic data from 12 microsatellite loci. rRNA gene and ITS sequencing data distinguished between two clades, herein termed the “Global” and the “Pacific”; however, little to no resolution was seen within each clade. Genotypic data from 12 microsatellite loci provided additional information regarding genetic relationships within the Global clade, but it was not possible to amplify DNA from the Pacific clade using these markers. With the exception of isolates from Italy and Spain, strains generally clustered according to origin, revealing geographic structuring within the Global clade. Additionally, no evidence supported the separation of A. lusitanicum and A. minutum as different species. With the use of microsatellites, it is now possible to initiate studies on the origin, history, and genetic heterogeneity of A. minutum that were not previously possible using only rRNA gene sequence data. This study demonstrates the power of combining a marker with intermediate resolution (rRNA sequences) with finer-scale markers (microsatellites) to examine intraspecies variability among globally distributed isolates and represents the first effort to employ this technique in A. minutum.

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