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Reproductive, genetic and phenotypic variation patterns in relation to toxicity in Pseudo-nitzschia pungens

Dutch title: Reproductieve, genetische en fenotypische variatiepatronen in relatie tot toxiciteit bij Pseudo-nitzschia pungens
Reference no: 33556+31556
Period: December 2003 till November 2007
Status: Completed

Thesaurus terms: Coastal waters; Genetics; Offshore; Plankton; Toxicity
Taxonomic terms: Bacillariophyceae [WoRMS]; Pseudo-nitzschia H. Peragallo in H. Peragallo & M. Peragallo, 1900 [WoRMS]
Geographical term: ANE, North Sea, Southern Bight [Marine Regions]

Institutes (2)  Top 
  • Universiteit Gent; Faculteit Wetenschappen; Vakgroep Biologie; Laboratorium voor Protistologie en Aquatische Ecologie (PAE), more, co-ordinator
  • Vlaamse overheid; Beleidsdomein Economie, Wetenschap en Innovatie; Agentschap voor Innovatie door Wetenschap en Technologie (IWT), more, sponsor

The marine, planktonic diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia comprises several species capable of producing domoic acid, the causative agent of Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP). Amongst the potentially toxic representatives, P. pungens is the most abundant in the North Sea.

The goal of this study is to gain a better understanding of the patterns in genetic, reproductive ecophysiological and morphological variation and the relationship to toxin production within this "species". This will lead to a better insight in the distribution of potentially toxic strains within these species and will help developing efficient detection methods.

We are building a collection of monoclonal cultures of Pseudo-nitzschia pungens from different stations in the North Sea and adjoining areas (estuaries and coastal lagoons), and other parts of the world. In order to elucidate the sexual compatibility between different strains, crossing experiments are being carried out. Potential genetic differentiation between allo- and sympatric populations and their phylogenetic relationships are assessed using the internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and ITS2) of the nuclear ribosomal DNA, which has previously been successfully used for phylogenetic analyses in Pseudo-nitzschia species complexes. Some of these studies have demonstrated the presence of genetically distinct but morphologically indistinguishable species.

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