, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 489-499
Date: 28 Oct 2004

Molecular Diversity among Communities of Freshwater Microchlorophytes

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Abstract

Current hypotheses on the distribution of freshwater microchlorophytes lead to predictions of low diversity and wide environmental tolerances. Thus, the same few species should be found worldwide in many different habitats. However, these hypotheses are based on a morphospecies concept, which precludes the possibility of numerous cryptic species among these organisms. In this study, we examined the diversity of coccoid green microalgae and chlamydomonads (Chlorophyta) isolated from sites in Minnesota and North Dakota (USA) using techniques of 18S rDNA sequence analysis. Of 93 distinct 18S rDNA sequences identified from among 273 isolates examined by molecular techniques, all but four are new to science. The spatial distribution of organisms represented by these 18S rDNA sequences was not uniform, because some lakes and ponds yielded distinct 18S rDNA types not found at other sites. In addition, organisms generally considered to be cosmopolitan, such as Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Chlorella vulgaris, were not found. These results challenge predictions of low species number and wide environmental tolerances among these eukaryotic microorganisms.