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Competitive advantage and higher fitness in native populations of genetically structured planktonic diatoms

Journal article
Authors Sirje Sildever
Josefin Sefbom
Inga Lips
Anna Godhe
Published in Environmental Microbiology
Volume 18
Pages 4403–4411
ISSN 1462-2912
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of marine sciences
Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Pages 4403–4411
Language en
Subject categories Marine ecology


It has been shown that the planktonic diatom Skeletonema from neighbouring areas are genetically differentiated despite absence of physical dispersal barriers. We revisited two sites, Mariager Fjord and Kattegat, NE Atlantic, and isolated new strains. Microsatellite genotyping and F-statistics revealed that the populations were genetically differentiated. An experiment was designed to investigate if populations are locally adapted and have a native competitive advantage. Ten strains from each location were grown individually in native and foreign water to investigate differences in produced biomass. Additionally, we mixed six pairs, one strain from each site, and let them grow together in native and foreign water. Strains from Mariager Fjord and Kattegat produced higher biomass in native water. In the competition experiment, strains from both sites displayed higher relative abundance and demonstrated competitive advantage in their native water. The cause of the differentiated growth is unknown, but could possibly be attributed to differences in silica concentration or viruses in the two water types. Our data show that dispersal potential does not influence the genetic structure of the populations. We conclude that genetic adaptation has not been overruled by gene flow, but instead the responses to different selection conditions are enforcing the observed genetic structure.

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