Using DNA sequence data for phylogenetic assessment of toxicant targets is a new and promising approach to study toxicant-induced selection in communities. Irgarol 1051 is a photosystem (PS) II inhibitor used in antifouling paint. It inhibits photosynthesis through binding to the D1 protein in PS II, which is encoded by the psbA gene found in genomes of chloroplasts, cyanobacteria and cyanophages. psbA mutations that alter the target protein can confer tolerance to PS II inhibitors. We have previously shown that irgarol induces community tolerance in natural marine periphyton communities and suggested a novel tolerance mechanism, involving the amino acid sequence of a turnover-regulating domain of D1, as contributive to this tolerance. Here we use a large number of psbA sequences of known identity to assess the taxonomic affinities of psbA sequences from these differentially tolerant communities, by performing phylogenetic analysis. We show that periphyton communities have high psbA diversity and that this diversity is adversely affected by irgarol. Moreover, we suggest that within tolerant periphyton the novel tolerance mechanism is present among diatoms only, whereas some groups of irgarol-tolerant cyanobacteria seem to have other tolerance mechanisms. However, it proved difficult to identify periphyton psbA haplotypes to the species or genus level, which indicates that the genomic pool of the attached, periphytic life forms is poorly studied and inadequately represented in international sequence databases.