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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Temporal escape-adaptation to eutrophication by Skeletonema marinoi

Olofsson, Malin; Almen, Anna-Karin; Jaatinen, Kim; Scheinin, Matias


Diatoms commonly set off the spring-bloom in temperate coastal environments. However, their temporal offset may change in regions subject to nutrient enrichment, and by peaking earlier, such populations can maintain their position in the vernal plankton succession. We tested whether the marine keystone diatom Skeletonema marinoi can accomplish this through thermal evolutionary adaptation. Eight geographically separated subpopulations, representing hydromorphologically and climatologically similar inlets displaying a range of trophic states, were compared in a common-garden experiment. At early-spring temperatures, both doubling times and variation coefficients thereof, correlated negatively with the trophic state of the environment of origin, indicating selection for fast growth due to eutrophication. At mid-spring temperatures, the relationships were reversed, indicating selection in the opposite direction. At late-spring temperatures, no significant relationships were detected, suggesting relaxed selection. Subsequent field observations reflected these findings, where blooming temperatures decreased with trophic state. Natural selection thus moves along with eutrophication towards colder temperatures earlier in the spring, favouring genotypes with the capacity to grow fast. The thermal niche shift demonstrated herein may be an evolutionary mechanism essentially leading to trophic changes in the local ecosystem.


Baltic Sea; resting stages; elevated temperatures; climate change; diatoms; eutrophication

Published in

FEMS Microbiology Letters
2022, Volume: 369, number: 1

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG14 Life below water

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