On land, geography often creates the boundaries that isolate one population of animals from another. One would expect that a group of animals living on one side of a continent would be genetically distinct from a group of the same species living on the other side.
The question of how closely related different populations are to one another becomes more difficult when one considers populations of plankton species in different bodies of water. It is this question that the Dr. Tatiana Rynearson lab and GSO student Kerry Whittaker focused their efforts on their cruise aboard the RV Endeavor that just ended. On this, Ms. Whittaker’s first cruise, she isolated the diatom Thalassiosira rotula from samples collected at several locations within the Gulf of Mexico and on either side of the Florida peninsula. These samples will be subjected to genetic tests to determine the relationships of the populations. Ms. Whittaker says that this kind of research will ultimately help to explain how harmful algal blooms in different locations may be related to one another.