New alleles in the mating type determination region of West Atlantic strains of Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata. Academic Article uri icon


  • The cosmopolitan, species-rich diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia represents a good system for the study of speciation, evolution and diversity. Understanding elements linked to population dynamics and life cycle regulation for these species is of particular importance in view of their ability to produce the toxin domoic acid and cause harmful blooms. Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata, one of the toxic species that represents a model for the study of life cycle related questions, is the only diatom for which a sex determination mechanism has been described. Populations in the Gulf of Naples (Mediterranean Sea), can share four different allelic variants (A, M, B, N) of the mating type determination region, and one of them (A) is responsible for the determination of the mating type+(MT+), defined by the MT+ restricted expression of the gene MRP3. Here, we analysed the sex determination genomic region in three new strains isolated from the Gulf of Mexico and compared it to the alleles previously described in the Mediterranean strains. We first show that these geographically distant strains of P. multistriata belong to different populations but can interbreed. Next, we show that the two populations share an overall similar structure of the genomic locus although differences can be seen in the polymorphic regions upstream of MRP3. In strain P4-C1, we amplified and sequenced an allele (M) identical to one of those previously characterized in the Mediterranean strains. In the other two strains, P4-C2 and P4-C5, we identified three new alleles, which we named A2, B2 and N2. P4-C2 and P4-C5 are heterozygous and share the common allele A2 linked to the monoallelic expression of the MT+ specific sex determining gene MRP3. Our results expand information on the global distribution of P. multistriata and on the level of conservation of the sex determination region in different populations. The definition of the extent of intra- and inter-specific conservation of this region would be a relevant addition to our understanding of Pseudo-nitzschia diversity and evolution.

published proceedings

  • Harmful Algae

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Russo, M. T., Ruggiero, M. V., Manfellotto, F., Scriven, V., Campbell, L., Montresor, M., & Ferrante, M. I.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Russo, Monia Teresa||Ruggiero, Maria Valeria||Manfellotto, Francesco||Scriven, Victoria||Campbell, Lisa||Montresor, Marina||Ferrante, Maria Immacolata

publication date

  • January 2021