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Mol Ecol. 2006 Apr;15(4):1033-50.

Phylogeography and systematics of zebra mussels and related species.

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Wisconsin Institute of Rapid Evolution, Department of Zoology, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


The genus Dreissena includes two widespread and aggressive aquatic invaders, the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, and the quagga mussel, Dreissena bugensis. This genus evolved in the Ponto-Caspian Sea basin, characterized by dynamic instability over multiple timescales and a unique evolutionary environment that may predispose to invasiveness. The objectives of this study were to gain insights into the demographic history of Dreissena species in their endemic range, to reconstruct intraspecific phylogeographic relationships among populations, and to clarify systematics of the genus, using DNA sequences from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene. We found four deeply diverged clades within this genus, with a basal split that approximately coincided with the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Divergence events within the four base clades were much more recent, corresponding to geographically disjunct sets of populations, which might represent species complexes. Across all taxa, populations of Dreissena shared a common pattern of genetic signatures indicating historical population bottlenecks and expansions. Haplotype diversity was relatively low in Ponto-Caspian drainages relative to more stable tectonic lakes in Greece, Macedonia, and Turkey. The phylogeographic and demographic patterns in the endemic range of Dreissena might have resulted from vicariance events, habitat instability, and the high fecundity and passive dispersal of these organisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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