Morphological analysis and sequencing of the 165 rRNA gene, the spacer region of the ribosomal operon (ITS1) and the rbcLX (RubisCO) region was performed on 26 Anabaena strains and 14 Aphanizomenon strains isolated from several lakes in Denmark, Finland and France. Based on their morphology, Anabaena strains differed from strains of Aphanizomenon: the vegetative cells, heterocysts and akinetes were significantly wider in Anabaena than in Aphanizomenon. Phylogenetic trees based on the 16S rDNA, ITS1 and rbcLX regions showed that the planktic Anabaena strains were not distinguishable from Aphanizomenon strains. The results of the clustering of Anabaena and Aphanizomenon strains based on 16S rDNA sequences showed that these two genera are not monophyletic. Sequence analysis of the 16S rDNA, ITS1-S and rbcLX regions of the planktic Anabaena strains showed that this genus is heterogeneous. In all methods, Anabaena strains that produced different toxic compounds (e.g. anatoxin-a, microcystin and an unknown neurotoxin) were clustered separately from each other but were grouped either with non-toxic Anabaena and/or Aphanizomenon strains. Our data suggest that the planktic Anabaena and Aphanizomenon isolates belong to the same genus, regardless of their morphological differences. Thus, a taxonomic revision of the two genera is required.


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