Polar Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 11, pp 1933–1956 | Cite as

Contribution towards a morphological and molecular taxonomic reference library of benthic marine diatoms from two Arctic fjords on Svalbard (Norway)

  • K. Stachura-Suchoples
  • N. Enke
  • C. Schlie
  • I. Schaub
  • U. Karsten
  • R. Jahn
Original Research


Knowledge on benthic diatom taxonomy and hence biodiversity from Arctic locations is rare, though the few existing analyses address morphological characteristics only. Morphological treatment is a time-consuming process and just allows the taxonomic identification of a low sample volume. In contrast, molecular sequencing is a faster and universally applicable approach, and also has the potential for refined analyses. Unfortunately, a lot of molecular information in databases is not trustable, and often existing genetic data do not fit together with morphological aspects. Therefore, the main goal of our study was for the first time to combine both morphological features and DNA information on benthic Arctic diatoms. In a first step, we studied the morphology of 26 strains from the Rostock Culture Collection of Arctic diatoms via light and electron microscopies. Secondly, we addressed their molecular taxonomy by sequencing the DNA barcode 18S V4 and the chloroplast marker rbcL. As a result, we could identify five species. Seven of the altogether twelve taxa could not be attributed to any known species, because listed sequences and morphology did not fit together. From these, three species were described as new to science here. Although the studied strains represent only a minor fraction of the diatom flora of Svalbard, this study is a first milestone in coupling morphological and molecular data of benthic diatoms in such high latitudes. By making these data available online, they contribute to a taxonomic reference library for Arctic benthic diatoms and are available for comparative studies.


Morphology Molecular taxonomy DNA barcode 18S V4 rbc



The work on benthic diatoms has been undertaken at the Ny-Ålesund International Arctic Environmental Research and Monitoring Facility and under the agreement on scientific cooperation between the Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, and the University of Rostock. The authors thank the crew at the AWIPEV base in Ny Ålesund and the German dive team (Anita Flohr, Peter Leopold, Max Schwanitz) for assistance in the field, collecting the samples and technical help. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in the framework of the priority programme 1158 ‘Antarctic Research with comparative investigations in Arctic ice areas’ by two grants (DFG, KA899/12 and KA899/15). The Rostock Group further gratefully acknowledges the support of the Electron Microscopy Center at the University Medicine Rostock (head Dr. M. Frank) and thanks Dr. G. Fulda for technical assistance. The Berlin Group gratefully acknowledges the help of Jana Bansemer with the retrieval of molecular data and of Monika Lüchow at the SEM; it also acknowledges funding by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Grant INST 130/839-1 FUGG concerning SEM as well as the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for light microscopy via the GBIF-D project 01 LI 1001 A.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Stachura-Suchoples
    • 1
  • N. Enke
    • 1
  • C. Schlie
    • 2
  • I. Schaub
    • 2
  • U. Karsten
    • 2
  • R. Jahn
    • 1
  1. 1.Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum DahlemFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Biological Sciences, Applied Ecology and PhycologyUniversity of RostockRostockGermany

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