The intertidal marine red alga Porphyra umbilicalis reproduces asexually in the Northwest Atlantic. We looked for population substructure among typical open-coastal and atypical estuarine habitats in seven asexual populations of P. umbilicalis from Maine to New Hampshire using eight expressed sequence tag-simple sequence repeats (EST-SSR) or microsatellite loci. Six genotypes were identified, four of which may represent recombinant genotypes from a recombination event that took place locally, or that took place prior to introduction to the Northwest Atlantic. Genotypic diversity was lowest in a population from Wiscasset, Maine, which inhabits an atypical habitat high in the intertidal zone of a bridge piling in an estuarine tidal rapid. Genotypic diversity was highest in the southernmost populations from New Hampshire; we identified two genotypes that were unique to the southernmost populations, and probably represent the most derived genotypes. We looked at genetic distances among populations in similar habitats, and found that populations were more closely related to their closest neighboring population than to a population in a similar habitat. We show that genotypic diversity within P. umbilicalis populations in the Gulf of Maine is relatively high and thus fits a model of high steady-state variation within asexual populations.

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Botanica Marina


De Gruyter

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©2016 by De Gruyter


This is an article published by De Gruyter in Botanica Marina in 2016, available online: