|Reproductieve, genetische en fenotypische variatiepatronen in relatie tot toxiciteit bij Pseudo-nitzschia pungens
The phenomenon of toxic phytoplankton blooms has been increasing world-wide in the last decades, the main problem being the spread of toxin-producing species. In order to detect these toxic blooms, worldwide monitoring programs are being undertaken. The efficiency of the monitoring programs is mainly determined by the ability of fast and accurate detection methods of the toxic species. One of the most important toxic algal species is Pseudo-nitzschia. Accurate identification of the different Pseudo-nitzschia species is only possible by electron microscopy, which is time-consuming and labor-intensive. An alternative, fast identification method for toxic species is the use of molecular probes. Unfortunately the use of these probes (rDNA-probes for Pseudo-nitzschia) have not always been successful. Possible problems are the presence of intra-specific variation within the specific DNA-region and the presence of cryptic species.
The main objective of this project is to obtain a better understanding of the nature and evolutionary context of the cryptic variation patterns in morphological, reproductive and molecular characteristics in relationship to the toxicity of Pseudo-nitzschia species. This study will focus on the Pseudo-nitzschia pungens/multiseries complex, one of the most abundant and potentially toxic representatives of the genus in the North Sea. This study will contribute to a well-grounded development of fast molecular detection methods for toxic algal blooms.|