Structure and diversity in Atlantic and Pacific communities of the toxigenic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia


Thursday, July 28, 2011
Redfield Auditorium - 12:00 Noon
Dr. Kate Hubbard
Postdoctoral Scholar Biology Department
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
co-sponsored event with CINAR

Species in the diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia are distributed throughout the world’s oceans. Several Pseudo-nitzschia species are known to produce the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA), which accumulates in bivalves and planktivorous fish and causes the human syndrome Amnesiac Shellfish Poisoning (ASP). Like other diatom genera, Pseudo-nitzschia species exhibit cryptic morphology and can be difficult to identify with microscopy. Here, molecular approaches were developed and used to describe Pseudo-nitzschia species distributions in Pacific and Atlantic waters. The detection of highly structured communities across local and regional spatial scales, and during different seasons, demonstrates the importance of coastal and estuarine processes in the assemblage of phytoplankton species. We are currently using biophysical models and the Environmental Sample Processor, an in situ genomic sensor, to better characterize the dynamics of toxic Pseudo-nitzschia species in the Gulf of Maine.