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    Different clades belonging to the cosmopolitan marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia pungens appear to be present in different oceanic environments, however, a 'hybrid zone', where populations of different clades interbreed, has also been reported. Many studies have investigated the sexual reproduction of P. pungens, focused on morphology and life cycle, rather than the role of sexual reproduction in mixing the genomes of their parents. We carried out crossing experiments to determine the sexual compatibility/incompatibility between different clades of P. pungens, and examined the genetic polymorphism in the ITS2 region. Sexual reproduction did not occur only between clades II and III under any of experimental temperature conditions. Four offspring strains were established between clade I and III successfully. Strains established from offspring were found interbreed with other offspring strains as well as viable with their parental strains. We confirmed the hybrid sequence patterns between clades I and III and found novel sequence types including polymorphic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the offspring strains. Our results implicate that gene exchange and mixing between different clades are still possible, and that sexual reproduction is a significant ecological strategy to maintain the genetic diversity within this diatom species.


    Jin Ho Kim, Penelope Ajani, Shauna A Murray, Joo-Hwan Kim, Hong Chang Lim, Sing Tung Teng, Po Teen Lim, Myung-Soo Han, Bum Soo Park. Sexual reproduction and genetic polymorphism within the cosmopolitan marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia pungens. Scientific reports. 2020 Jun 30;10(1):10653

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    PMID: 32606343

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