Get access

GENETIC POPULATION STRUCTURE OF PSEUDO-NITZSCHIA PUNGENS (BACILLARIOPHYCEAE) FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND THE NORTH SEA1

Authors


  • 1

    Received 2 September 2008. Accepted 25 February 2009.

Abstract

Several species of the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia produce the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA). Consumption of fish and shellfish that have accumulated this potent excitotoxin has resulted in severe illness and even death in humans, marine mammals, and seabirds. Pseudo-nitzschia pungens (Grunow ex Cleve) Hasle is a cosmopolitan diatom commonly occurring in the waters of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and the eastern North Atlantic, including the North Sea. However, genetic and physiological relationships among populations throughout this large geographic distribution have not been assessed. Population genetic parameters (e.g., Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium, linkage equilibrium, FST) calculated for P. pungens collected from the Juan de Fuca eddy region in the PNW indicated the presence of two distinct groups that were more divergent from each other than either was from a P. pungens sample from the North Sea. Geographic heterogeneity was also detected within each of the two PNW groups. These results suggested that the populations of P. pungens recently mixed in the Juan de Fuca eddy region (a seasonally retentive feature off the coasts of Washington State, USA, and Vancouver Island, Canada) but did not exchange genetic material by sexual reproduction. Alternatively, these two groups may be cryptic (morphologically identical, but reproductively isolated) species. Identifying cryptic diversity in Pseudo-nitzschia is important for bloom prediction and aiding the identification of molecular markers that can be used for rapid detection assay development.

Ancillary