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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2008 May;64(2):199-208. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2008.00461.x. Epub 2008 Mar 10.

Genetic diversity in strains of the genus Anabaena isolated from planktonic and benthic habitats of the Gulf of Finland (Baltic Sea).

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  • 1Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, Viikki Biocenter, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Late summer cyanobacterial blooms in the Baltic Sea contain Anabaena sp. together with Nodularia spumigena and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. Although Anabaena is common especially in the Gulf of Finland, very little is known about its genetic diversity. Here we undertook a molecular phylogenetic study of 68 Anabaena strains isolated from the brackish Gulf of Finland. We sequenced the 16S rRNA genes from 54 planktonic and 14 benthic Anabaena strains, and rbcL and rpoC1 genes from a subset of these strains. Phylogenetic trees showed that Anabaena strains, from both planktonic and benthic habitats, were genetically diverse. Although the Anabaena strains were morphologically diverse, in our study only one genetically valid species was found to exist in the plankton. Evolutionary distances between benthic Anabaena strains were greater than between planktonic strains, suggesting that benthic habitats allow for the maintenance of greater genetic diversity than planktonic habitats. A number of novel lineages containing only sequences obtained in this study were compiled in the phylogenetical analyses. Thus, it seemed that novel lineages of the genus Anabaena may be present in the Baltic Sea. Our results demonstrate that the Baltic Sea Anabaena strains show surprisingly high genetic diversity.

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