Get access

INTERSTRAIN VARIABILITY IN PHYSIOLOGY AND GENETICS OF HETEROSIGMA AKASHIWO (RAPHIDOPHYCEAE) FROM THE WEST COAST OF NORTH AMERICA

Authors


  • Received 30 March 2010. Accepted 4 August 2010.

  • Author for correspondence: e-mail suzanne.strom@wwu.edu.

Abstract

High levels of intraspecific variability are often associated with HAB species, and this variability is likely an important factor in their competitive success. Heterosigma akashiwo (Hada) Hada ex Y. Hara et M. Chihara is an ichthyotoxic raphidophyte capable of forming dense surface-water blooms in temperate coastal regions throughout the world. We isolated four strains of H. akashiwo from fish-killing northern Puget Sound blooms in 2006 and 2007. By assessing numerous aspects of biochemistry, physiology, and toxicity, we were able to describe distinct ecotypes that may be related to isolation location, source population, or bloom timing. Contrasting elements among strains were cell size, maximum growth and photosynthesis rates, tolerance of low salinities, amino acid use, and toxicity to the ciliate grazer Strombidinopsis acuminatum (Fauré-Fremiet). In addition, the rDNA sequences and chloroplast genome of each isolate were examined, and while all rDNA sequences were identical, the chloroplast genome identified differences among the strains that tracked differences in ecotype. H. akashiwo strain 07A, which was isolated from an unusual spring bloom, had a significantly higher maximum potential photosynthesis rate (28.7 pg C · cell−1 · h−1) and consistently exhibited the highest growth rates. Strains 06A and 06B were not genetically distinct from one another and were able to grow on the amino acids glutamine and alanine, while the other two strains could not. Strain 07B, which is genetically distinct from the other three strains, exhibited the only nontoxic effect. Thus, molecular tools may support identification, tracking, and prediction of strains and/or ecotypes using distinctive chloroplast gene signatures.

Ancillary