Anita S Klein, Ph.D.

Anita S Klein, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and NHAES Faculty Fellow

DNA-based molecular techniques provide new approaches to understanding Evolution and Population structure. Insights from Molecular Population Genetics and Systematics can be applied to understand and control the spread of exotic organisms, such as invasive algal species. I am currently collaborating with Arthur Mathieson (Jackson Estuarine Lab) in a project to track the origins and diversity of Codium fragile subspecies fragile, the oyster thief, in Northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes. This coenocytic green macroalgae first reached the Gulf of Maine in the 1970’s. In the last two decades populations of C. fragile explosively expanded, displacing native algae and disrupting shellfish beds.

Another of my current research projects centers on the red algae Porphyra umbilicalis and its close relative P. linearis.  Genome sequencing for Porphyra umbilicalis is being carried under JGI’s community sequencing program ( ). I am part of a NSF Sponsored Research Coordination Network ( to analyze the genomic data for Porphyra. These red algae are potential components in multi-trophic integrated aquaculture systems where algae are grown in the effluent water from finfish tanks. Because Porphyra has a high surface to volume ratio, it will absorb the nitrogenous waste from the fish.  In addition, the high protein Porphyra can be used as an alternative source of fishfood, improving the overall sustainability of finfish aquaculture. Neither P. umbilicalis nor P. linearis have bred for aquaculture.  To enhance their use as a component of multi-trophic aquaculture, my lab will use comparative genomics to identify differences between populations.  Building on reference cDNAs and genomic sequences, we will use RNAseq to identify molecular polymorphisms within Porhyra. Common garden experiments and quantitative trait mapping or association genetics will be used to identify natural variation for traits that will improve Porphyra: enhanced nitrogen uptake, higher thermal tolerance, etc.

Eelgrass is a very important component of temperate coastal and estuarine environments.  The eelgrass stabilizes sediment, provides habitat and/or food for marine organisms.  Eelgrass populations have been ravaged by the effects of pollution, and are threatened by climate change (  Successful eelgrass restoration needs to be based on sound principles of conservation genetics.  In a project funded by the Nature Conservancy, and in collaboration with Fred Short, Dave Burdick, and Gregg Moore (Jackson Estuarine Lab), a research scientist Sarah Weigel, undergraduates and I are examining the population structure of eelgrass beds from Southern New England and Long Island Sound.  The results will contribute to a global understanding of eelgrass metapopulation dynamics and improve efforts in eelgrass conservation.


Recent Publications

Eriksen, Renée L. L. A. Green, and Klein A. S. 2016 Genetic variation within and among asexual populations of Porphyra umbilicalis Kützing (Bangiales, Rhodophyta) in the Gulf of Maine, USA. Botanica Marina 59 (1):1-12.

Benton, C.S., Mathieson, A.C., and Klein, A.S. 2016 Ecology of Codium fragile subsp fragile populations within salt marsh pannes in Southern Maine. Rhodora 117: 297-316

Short, F. T., Klein, A. S., Burdick, D. M., Moore, G. E. 2012 The Eelgrass Resource of Southern New England and New York: Science in Support of Management and Restoration Success NOAA Restoration Center, Community-based Restoration Program. (pp. 93)

Chan, C.X., Zauner, S., Wheeler, G., Grossman, A.R., Prochnik, S.E., Blouin, N.A., Zhuang, Y., Benning, C., Berg, G.M., Yarish, C., Eriksen, R.E., Klein, A.S., Lin, S., Levine, I., Brawley, S., and Bhattacharya, D. Analysis of Porphyra membrane transporters demonstrates gene transfer among photosynthetic eukaryotes and numerous sodium-coupled transport systems. Plant Physiology 158: 2001-2012, 2012

Teasdale, B.W. and Klein, A.S. Genetic variation and biogeographical boundaries within the red alga Porphyra umbilicalis (Bangiales, Rhodophyta). Botanica Marina 53: 413-417, 2010

Gantt, E., Berg, G.M., Bhattacharya, D., Blouin, N.A., Brodie, J., Chan, C.X., Collén, J., Cunningham, F.X., Gross, J., Grossman, A.R., Karpowicz, S., Kitade, Y., Klein, A.S., Levine, I.A., Lin, S., Lu, S., Lynch, M., Minocha, S.C., Müller, K.M., Neefus, C.D., Oliveira, M.C., Rymarquis, L., Smith, A., Stiller, J.W., Wu, W-K., Yarish, C., Zhuang, Y.Y., and Brawley, S.H. Porphyra: complex life histories in a harsh environment. P. umbilicalis, an intertidal red alga for genomic analysis. In: Red Algae in the Genomic Age, edited by J. Seckbach and D. Chapman, 2010






Anita Klein
Spaulding Hall 238
Durham, NH 03824