Research objectives and content
This research proposed will explore the genetic structure and diversity in populations of the coastal angiosperm Zostera marina L. to address the following basic questions: (1) What is the clonal structure and diversity in eelgrass? (2) What are the patterns of genetic differentiation through variable spatial scales (10s of m to 10,000 of kms)? (3) How much gene flow occurs over a range of geographic distances? 4) How is genetic differentiation correlated with fragmentation and size of subpopulations (patchiness)? To answer these questions, I will use a combination of field sampling in natural populations and laboratory work. The main emphasis of the training grant will be to develop molecular markers, in particular microsatellite loci (=msat), and their associated primers for PCR-amplification. Msat loci are likely to overcome previous limitations in resolution by traditional techniques (i.e. isozymes). In addition, they represent true, codominant alleles. Seagrass research has centered around environmental parameters controlling plant distribution whereas population genetics has seldom been considered. The project will bridge this gap for populations of Z. marina, a very valuable but threatened community forming plant of European temperate coastlines which provides nurseries for many fish and molluscs, prevents erosion and improves water clarity. Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The training will enable the applicant to perform detailed population genetic studies in angiosperms in general, and broaden his research amplitude. The proposed research will develop microsatellite loci for the detailed study of genetic structure of a coastal marine plant. In the near future, msat markers will allow resolution of many questions of relevance for the conservation of marine plants, i.e. how genetic diversity is distributed among habitats and whether local adaptation is important for population persistence.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)