We investigate the functional role and method of reproduction of ‘free-living’ bladderwrack that can be found living unattached on soft bottoms in sheltered bays within the Baltic.
Bladderwrack, Fucus vesiculosus (L.), is one of the major foundation species in the Baltic Sea littoral zone and an integral part of the ecosystem. It is critical for ecosystem function and services, providing shelter and food for many small animals, fish and other algae. The Baltic is a very unique environment, being neither freshwater nor marine, but brackish and thus somewhere in between. This means that both freshwater and marine animals and plants coexist, and struggle to survive in this ecologically marginal environment. Through genetic analyses, we provide valuable insights into the population structure and phylogeny of these free-living forms of bladderwrack. Additional experimentation will identify optimal growth conditions, stress tolerance, and the link between environmental conditions and phenotype. From this we aim to determine the relationship between genotype and phenotype, and how these effect functionality.