Eutrophication of seas may have impact on genetic variation in algae

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Washington, October 20 (ANI): A research at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has shown that eutrophication of the seas may have an impact on genetic variation in algae.

Eutrophication is an increase in the concentration of chemical nutrients in an ecosystem to an extent that increases in the primary productivity of the ecosystem.

Depending on the degree of eutrophication, subsequent negative environmental effects such as anoxia and severe reductions in water quality, fish, and other animal populations may occur.

Now, researchers at the Department of Marine Ecology of the University of Gothenburg have determined that eutrophication of the seas may affect genetic variation in algae.

Phytoplankton provide the basis for the whole marine food chain. These microscopic organisms are common in coastal areas, all the way from the polar regions to the Equator, and multiply through cell division.

If cells are present in the water mass in large numbers an algal blood develops, which is a recurrent problem in Swedish seas and along Swedish coasts.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have long been interested in the development and causes of algal blooms.

The doctoral student Karolina Harnstrom has focused in her thesis on diatoms, which are the largest single group of phytoplankton, and their occurrence in the eutrophicated Mariager Fjord in Jutland.

The results show that different populations of a diatom species may have different growth and adaptability characteristics, and that the genetic variation of the algae may possibly be affected by eutrophication.

The researchers found different types of populations during periods of heavy eutrophication in Mariager Fjord.

"We know surprisingly little about the ecology of diatoms, about where the cells that give rise to blooms come from and whether it is the same populations that recurrently bloom in a particular location or whether it differs between seasons," said Harnstrom.

"My research may contribute to answering these questions, and perhaps increase knowledge of how algal blooms are affected by environmental changes and how the population dynamics of these algae appears in a microevolutionary perspective," she said. (ANI)

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