The genus Alexandrium includes organisms of interest, both for the study of dinoflagellate evolution and for their impacts as toxic algae affecting human health and fisheries. Only partial large subunit (LSU) rDNA sequences of Alexandrium and other dinoflagellates are available, although they contain much genetic information. Here, we report complete LSU rDNA sequences from 11 strains of Alexandrium, including Alexandrium affine, Alexandrium catenella, Alexandrium fundyense, Alexandrium minutum, and Alexandrium tamarense, and discuss their segmented domains and structure. Putative LSU rRNA coding regions were recorded to be around 3,400bp long. Their GC content (about 43.7%) is among the lowest when compared with other organisms. Furthermore, no AT-rich regions were found in Alexandrium LSU rDNA, although a low GC content was recorded within the LSU rDNA. No intron-like sequences were found. The secondary structure of the LSU rDNA and parsimony analyses showed that most variation in LSU rDNA is found in the divergent (D) domains with the D2 region being the most informative. This high D domain variability can allow members of the diverse Alexandrium genus to be categorized at the species level. In addition, phylogenetic analysis of the alveolate group using the complete LSU sequences strongly supported previous findings that the dinoflagellates and apicomplexans form a clade. © 2007 The Author(s)
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