Research Article

Marine Biology

, Volume 146, Issue 1, pp 79-92

First online:

Mitochondrial DNA lineages in the European populations of mussels (Mytilus spp.)

  • B. ŚmietankaAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics and Marine Biotechnology, Institute of Oceanology PAS
  • , M. ZbawickaAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics and Marine Biotechnology, Institute of Oceanology PAS
  • , M. WołowiczAffiliated withLaboratory of Estuarine Ecology, Institute of Oceanography, University of Gdańsk
  • , R. WenneAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics and Marine Biotechnology, Institute of Oceanology PASMolecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Hull Email author 

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Marine mussels (Mytilus spp.) belong to a group of benthic species crucial to coastal ecosystems in Europe and are important for the cultivation industry. In the present study, the nuclear adhesive protein marker (Me15/16) was used for identification of Mytilus species in coastal areas, on a large geographic scale in Europe. Pure M. edulis populations were found in the White Sea and Iceland. M. edulis, M. trossulus and their hybrids were found in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea (Oosterschelde, The Netherlands). M. galloprovincialis, M. edulis and their hybrids occurred in Ireland. M. galloprovincialis populations were observed in the Sea of Azov (Black Sea), the Mediterranean and Portugal. The mitochondrial (mt) DNA coding-region ND2-COIII was studied by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism) assay methods. The mtDNA control region was studied by PCR. Substantial differentiation in the frequency of female haplotypes among the studied populations in Europe was observed. Despite isolation between the Mytilus taxa on a macro-geographic scale, considerable mitochondrial gene flow occurred between populations, with introgression in hybrid zones on a more local geographic scale in Europe. MtDNA of the Atlantic Iberian (Portugal) population of M. galloprovincialis was more similar to mtDNA in populations of M. galloprovincialis and M. edulis from the Atlantic coasts of the Ireland and M. edulis from the North Sea, than to M. galloprovincialis from the Mediterranean. Lower polymorphism of mtDNA in populations of the Baltic and Azov Sea mussels in comparison with other European populations was observed and can be explained by the recent history of both seas after the Pleistocene glaciation. In the M. galloprovincialis population from the Azov Sea, the presence of the male-inherited (M) genome was demonstrated for the first time by sequencing the control region and was observed at high frequency. Possible influence of mussel culture on geographic distribution of the Mytilus taxa in Europe is discussed.