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Drivers of genetic differentiation in protist populations

Within this project the aim is to identify the barriers to dispersal in microbial eukaryotes (protists). We especially focus on photosynthetic species that form blooms in freshwater lakes and the sea. This research has implications for the understanding of the spreading of microalgae and protists in general, as well as for predicting the occurrence of new algal blooms.

Our approach is to determine the importance of physical versus biological dispersal barriers by analyzing the genetic diversity patterns. Our hypothesis is that biological dispersal barriers, such as priority effects and local adaptation have a major effect on population differentiation. We address these questions by experimental studies on the nuisance freshwater species (Gonyostomum semen) Raphidophyceae, the Baltic (Alexandrium ostenfeldii) Dinophyceae, and (Skeletonema marinoi)Bacillariophyceae.

This is a joint project with Gothenburg University, funded by The Swedish Research Council Formas.

Gonyostomum semen
Photo: Caroline Björnerås

Light microscopy photograph of cells from a Gonyostumum semen (Raphidophyceae) bloom in Lake Bökesjön, Scania, Sweden.

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Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden