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Journal of Marine Science and Engineering


Algae represent a large and diverse group of photosynthetic organisms inhabiting all aquatic habitats. Although the traditional assessment of algal diversity relies mainly on microscopy-based morphological identification, certain limitations exist. In this study, we present a combined molecular and morphological assessment of algal diversity in mudflats from the Savannah River Estuary, Georgia. High diversity of diatoms was documented, and less than 20% of the algal community was physiologically active at the time of collection. From the total genomic DNA extracted from the field samples and lab isolates, 18S rDNA sequences were PCR amplified, cloned, sequenced, identified, and then compared to the taxa identified via microscopy. Only a few of the DNA sequences matched documented taxa, and the abundance of particular algal species was limited to morphological analysis. Surprisingly, upon examination of the remaining lysis buffer from the mechanical lysis step of algal cells, diatom species were left intact even in the presence of a detergent indicating that the diatom species resistant to lysis could be easily underrepresented. Generation of additional algal sequences data, tied to accurate taxonomic identification, is essential to current environmental sequencing projects and potentially would allow faster acquisition of algal community structure within these unique environments.


Biological and Environmental Sciences

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