Between- and within-population variations in thermal reaction norms of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

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Zhang, Y, Klapper, R, Lohbeck, KT, Bach, LT, Schulz, KG, Reusch, TBH & Riebessell, U 2014, 'Between- and within-population variations in thermal reaction norms of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi', Limnology and Oceanography, vol. 59, no. 5, pp. 1570-1580.

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Thermal reaction norms for growth rates of six Emiliania huxleyi isolates originating from the central Atlantic (Azores, Portugal) and five isolates from the coastal North Atlantic (Bergen, Norway) were assessed. We used the template mode of variation model to decompose variations in growth rates into modes of biological interest: vertical shift, horizontal shift, and generalist—specialist variation. In line with the actual habitat conditions, isolates from Bergen (Bergen population) grew well at lower temperatures, and isolates from the Azores (Azores population) performed better at higher temperatures. The optimum growth temperature of the Azores population was significantly higher than that of the Bergen population. Neutral genetic differentiation was found between populations by microsatellite analysis. These findings indicate that E. huxleyi populations are adapted to local temperature regimes. Next to between-population variation, we also found variation within populations. Genotype-by-environment interactions resulted in the most pronounced phenotypic differences when isolates were exposed to temperatures outside the range they naturally encounter. Variation in thermal reaction norms between and within populations emphasizes the importance of using more than one isolate when studying the consequences of global change on marine phytoplankton. Phenotypic plasticity and standing genetic variation will be important in determining the potential of naturalE. huxleyi populations to cope with global climate change.