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Freshwater protists do not go with the flow: Population structure in Gonyostomum semen independent of connectivity among lakes

Journal article
Authors Ingrid Sassenhagen
Josefin Sefbom
Torbjörn Säll
Anna Godhe
Karin Rengefors
Published in Environmental Microbiology
Volume 17
Issue 12
Pages 5063–5072
ISSN 1462-2912
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of marine sciences
Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Pages 5063–5072
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.12987
Subject categories Biological Sciences


Many recent studies have found genetically differentiated populations in microorganisms despite potentially high dispersal. We designed a study to specifically examine the importance of physical dispersal barriers, i.e. geographic distance and lack of hydrological connectivity, in restricting gene flow and enhancing divergence in limnic microorganisms. We focused on the nuisance microalga Gonyostomum semen, which has recently expanded in Northern Europe and differentiated into genetically distinct populations. G. semen was sampled from six lakes distributed in two adjacent watersheds, which thereby comprised, both connected and non-connected lakes. The individual isolates were genotyped by amplified fragment length polymorphism. Several lake populations were differentiated from each other, but connectivity within watersheds could not explain the observed population genetic pattern. However, isolation by distance was moderate and might limit the gene flow among distant populations. In addition, we found low, but significant linkage disequilibrium, which indicates regular sexual recombination in this species, despite its high degree of asexual reproduction. Therefore, we conclude that the genetic properties of microalgae with occasional sexual reproduction essentially mirror regularly recombining species. Furthermore, the data indicated bottlenecks supporting the hypothesized recent range expansion of this species.

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