The distribution of microbial eukaryotes (protists) has been frequently discussed during the last two decades. The ubiquity hypothesis assumes the lack of latitudinal gradients in protist diversity due to their unlimited global dispersal. In this study, we examined the diversity and distribution of the very common, globally distributed green algal genus Klebsormidium across climatic zones, focusing on the polar regions. We tested whether (i) there is comparable diversity among the polar and temperate regions, and (ii) whether a spatial genetic differentiation occurs at the global scale. We collected a total of 58 Arctic, Antarctic and temperate strains, and genetically characterized them by sequencing the rbcL gene and two highly variable chloroplast markers. Our analyses revealed the presence of two different distribution patterns which are supposed to characterize both macroorganisms and protists. On the one hand, we demonstrated unlimited dispersal and intensive gene flow within one of the inferred lineages (superclade B). On the other hand, the majority of Klebsormidium clades showed rather a limited distribution. In addition, we detected a significant decrease of species richness towards the poles i.e. the macroecological pattern typical for macroorganisms. Species within a single protist genus may thus exhibit highly contrasting distribution patterns, based on their dispersal capabilities, which are usually shaped by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors.