Molecular tools separate harmful algal bloom species, Karenia mikimotoi, from different geographical regions into distinct sub-groups

Manal A. Al-Kandari, Andrea C. Highfield, Matt J. Hall, Paul Hayes, Declan C. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Karenia mikimotoi is a toxic dinoflagellate that is known to form extensive populations in the Eastern North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that that impacts significantly on recreation and fisheries industries in these areas. Attempts to resolve the complex taxonomy within this " species" have been hampered by the requirement for fine-scale morphological analyses and by the lack of suitable genetic markers. Here we report the use of a novel combination of primer sets designed to facilitate amplification of the rDNA LSU and ITS, and the rbcL genes that can be used to discriminate between K. mikimotoi isolates originating from different geographical regions. We show that isolates from Europe and New Zealand are more closely related to each other than either is to isolates from Japan. Specific PCR-based primers were designed to amplify a region of the rbcL gene for subsequent high resolution analysis of the PCR amplicon melting temperatures. This innovative technique allows us to rapidly discriminate K. mikimotoi from distinct geographic localities and we propose the separation of K. mikimotoi into two distinct sub-species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)636-643
Number of pages8
JournalHarmful Algae
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Marian Yallop, Colin Brownlee and Martin Edwards for their invaluable advice and support offered throughout the course of this project. D.C.S. is a Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) Research Fellow funded by NERC through the core strategic research programme Oceans2025 (R8-H12-52). M.A.A. is funded by a scholarship from the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, State of Kuwait.[SES]


  • Genetic variability
  • High resolution melting curve analysis
  • ITS
  • K. mikimotoi
  • LSU
  • RbcL


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