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Mol Ecol. 2006 Apr;15(4):1021-31.

Molecular ecology of zebra mussel invasions.

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

Erratum in

  • Mol Ecol. 2008 Mar;17(6):1627.


The invasion of the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, into North American waters has resulted in profound ecological disturbances and large monetary losses. This study examined the invasion history and patterns of genetic diversity among endemic and invading populations of zebra mussels using DNA sequences from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene. Patterns of haplotype frequency indicate that all invasive populations of zebra mussels from North America and Europe originated from the Ponto-Caspian Sea region. The distribution of haplotypes was consistent with invasive populations arising from the Black Sea drainage, but could not exclude the possibility of an origin from the Caspian Sea drainage. Similar haplotype frequencies among North American populations of D. polymorpha suggest colonization by a single founding population. There was no evidence of invasive populations arising from tectonic lakes in Turkey, while lakes in Greece and Macedonia contained only Dreissena stankovici. Populations in Turkey might be members of a sibling species complex of D. polymorpha. Ponto-Caspian derived populations of D. polymorpha (theta = 0.0011) and Dreissena bugensis (one haplotype) exhibited low levels of genetic diversity at the COI gene, perhaps as a result of repeated population bottlenecks. In contrast, geographically isolated tectonic lake populations exhibited relatively high levels of genetic diversity (theta = 0.0032 to 0.0134). It is possible that the fluctuating environment of the Ponto-Caspian basin facilitated the colonizing habit of invasive populations of D. polymorpha and D. bugensis. Our findings were concordant with the general trend of destructive freshwater invaders in the Great Lakes arising from the Ponto-Caspian Sea basin.

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