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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 606:7-28 (2018)  -  DOI:

Spatial and temporal patterns of Pseudo-nitzschia genetic diversity in the North Pacific Ocean from the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey

Rowena Stern1,*,**, Stephanie K. Moore2,*, Vera L. Trainer3, Brian D. Bill3, Astrid Fischer1, Sonia Batten4

1Marine Biological Association, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth PL1 2PB, UK
2University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Joint Office for Science Support. Visiting Scientist at Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Blvd. E., Seattle, WA 98112, USA
3Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2725 Montlake Blvd. E., Seattle, WA 98112, USA
4Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, C/O 4737 Vista View Cr, Nanaimo, BC V9V 1N8, Canada
*These authors contributed equally to this work
**Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Several species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia can produce the neurotoxin domoic acid that is responsible for the seafood-borne illness amnesic shellfish poisoning in humans, marine wildlife mortalities and prolonged closures of fisheries resulting in economic losses to coastal communities. Since the year 2000, Pseudo-nitzschia species have been monitored in the Pacific Ocean with the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR). We used a combination of scanning electron microscopy with high-throughput and Sanger sequencing of CPR survey samples to compare the diversity of phytoplankton, including Pseudo-nitzschia species, from the north-eastern Pacific Ocean over 3 climatically different years: 2002, 2005 and 2008. A Pseudo-nitzschia-specific primer set targeting a partial region of the large subunit ribosomal DNA (rDNA) revealed spatially separated communities of Pseudo-nitzschia. The coastal region was dominated by a diverse array of P. fraudulenta unique sequences (operational taxonomic units), whereas the offshore region was rich in P. multiseries and contained a wide range of other Pseudo-nitzschia taxa, many not previously observed in this region. In 2008, exceptionally cold sea surface temperatures were recorded, influenced by a strong negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation signal. In that year, a more diverse assemblage of species was present in a spring open water sample, whereas P. fraudulenta was unusually rare from a coastal autumn sample. This is the first application of high-throughput genetic methods to uncover patterns of Pseudo-nitzschia genetic diversity from archival CPR samples, demonstrating the value of using CPR for plankton community analysis in rarely sampled regions of the oceans.

KEY WORDS: Pseudo-nitzschia · Continuous Plankton Recorder · CPR · Pacific Ocean · Highthroughput sequencing · Large subunit ribosomal DNA · Genetic diversity · Harmful algae

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Cite this article as: Stern R, Moore SK, Trainer VL, Bill BD, Fischer A, Batten S (2018) Spatial and temporal patterns of Pseudo-nitzschia genetic diversity in the North Pacific Ocean from the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 606:7-28.

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