SNPs reveal geographical population structure of Corallina officinalis (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta)

We present the first population genetics study of the calcifying coralline alga and ecosystem engineer Corallina officinalis. Eleven novel SNP markers were developed and tested using Kompetitive Allele Specific PCR (KASP) genotyping to assess the population structure based on five sites around the NE Atlantic (Iceland, three UK sites and Spain), spanning a wide latitudinal range of the species’ distribution. We examined population genetic patterns over the region using discriminate analysis of principal components (DAPC). All populations showed significant genetic differentiation, with a marginally insignificant pattern of isolation by distance (IBD) identified. The Icelandic population was most isolated, but still had genotypes in common with the population in Spain. The SNP markers presented here provide useful tools to assess the population connectivity of C. officinalis. This study is amongst the first to use SNPs on macroalgae and represents a significant step towards understanding the population structure of a widespread, habitat-forming coralline alga in the NE Atlantic.