The flagellate micro-alga Fibrocapsa japonica can form harmful algal blooms:along all temperate coastal regions of the world. The species was first observed in coastal waters of Japan and the western US in the 1970s-, it has been reported regularly worldwide since. To unravel whether this apparent range expansion can be tracked, we assessed genetic variation among nuclear ribosomal DNA ITS sequences, obtained from sixteen global:strains collected over the course of three decades. Ten sequence positions showed polymorphism across the strains. Nine out of these revealed ambiguities in several or most sequences sampled. The oldest strain collected (LB-2161) was the only one without such intra-individual polymorphism. In the others, the proportion of ambiguities at variable sites increased with more recent collection date. The pattern does not result from loss of variation due to sexual reproduction and random drift in culture because sister cultures CS-332 and NIES-136 showed virtually the same ITS-pattern after seven years of separation. Neither are the patterns explained by recent range expansion of a single genotype, because in that case one would expect lowest genetic diversity in the recently invaded North Sea, instead. polymorphism is highest there. Recent ballast-water-mediated mixing of formerly isolated populations and subsequent ongoing sexual reproduction among them can explain the increase in ambiguities. The species' capacity to form harmful blooms may well have been enhanced through increased genetic diversity of regional populations. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd All rights reserved.
|Tijdschrift||Journal of Sea Research|
|Nummer van het tijdschrift||3-4|
|Status||Published - dec.-2001|