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Exploring the impact of multidecadal environmental changes on the population genetic structure of a marine primary producer

Journal article
Authors Nina Lundholm
Sofia Ribeiro
Anna Godhe
Lene Rostgaard Nielsen
Marianne Ellegaard
Published in Ecology and Evolution
Volume 7
Issue 9
Pages 3132-3142
ISSN 2045-7758
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of marine sciences
Pages 3132-3142
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2906
Keywords dinoflagellate, environmental change, microsatellites, phytoplankton resting stage, population genetic structure, sediment core
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences


Many marine protists form resting stages that can remain viable in coastal sediments for several decades. Their long-term survival offers the possibility to explore the impact of changes in environmental conditions on population dynamics over multidecadal time scales. Resting stages of the phototrophic dinoflagellate Pentapharsodinium dalei were isolated and germinated from five layers in dated sediment cores from Koljö fjord, Sweden, spanning ca. 1910–2006. This fjord has, during the last century, experienced environmental fluctuations linked to hydrographic variability mainly driven by the North Atlantic Oscillation. Population genetic analyses based on six microsatellite markers revealed high genetic diversity and suggested that samples belonged to two clusters of subpopulations that have persisted for nearly a century. We observed subpopulation shifts coinciding with changes in hydrographic conditions. The large degree of genetic diversity and the potential for both fluctuation and recovery over longer time scales documented here, may help to explain the long-term success of aquatic protists that form resting stages.

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