We have developed a technique for determining the genetic structure of populations of filamentous cyanobacteria. The sequence diversity at specific gene loci is first characterised in a range of clonal cultures; subsequent analysis involves individual trichomes collected directly from natural populations. This technique has been used to examine the population genetic structure of Nodularia in the Baltic Sea and Planktothrix in Lake Zürich. For Nodularia, studies utilising four polymorphic loci reveal that even though there is a degree of linkage disequilibrium, horizontal transfer of genetic information has been sufficient to generate many of the possible allelic combinations. Analyses reveal both spatial and temporal variation in population genetic structure. Other studies of both Nodularia and Planktothrix have shown a correlation between particular alleles at the gvpC locus and the critical pressure of the gas vesicles that accumulate within the cell. We are now investigating how the natural selection of different gas vesicle phenotypes, imposed by changes in the depth of the upper mixed layer of the water column, affects the relative success of individual cyanobacteria possessing different gvpC alleles.