Short Communication

Helgoland Marine Research

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 407-412

First online:

Mitochondrial and nuclear markers reveal a lack of genetic structure in the entocommensal nemertean Malacobdella arrokeana in the Patagonian gulfs

  • José E. F. AlfayaAffiliated withLARBIM, Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT-CONICET)
  • , Gregorio BigattiAffiliated withLARBIM, Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT-CONICET)
  • , Annie MachordomAffiliated withMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN-CSIC) Email author 


Malacobdella arrokeana is an entocommensal nemertean exclusively found in the bivalve geoduck Panopea abbreviata, and it is the only representative of the genus in the southern hemisphere. To characterize its genetic diversity, population structure and recent demographic history, we conducted the first genetic survey on this species, using sequence data for the cytochrome oxidase I gene (COI), 16S rRNA (16S) and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS2). Only four different ITS2 genotypes were found in the whole sample, and the two main haplotypes identified in the mitochondrial dataset were present among all localities with a diversity ranging from 0.583 to 0.939. Nucleotide diversity was low (π = 0.001–0.002). No significant genetic structure was detected between populations, and mismatch distribution patterns and neutrality tests results are consistent with a population in expansion or under selection. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that the largest level of variance observed was due to intrapopulation variation (100, 100 and 94.39 % for 16S, COI and ITS2, respectively). F st values were also non-significant. The observed lack of population structure is likely due to high levels of genetic connectivity in combination with the lack or permeability of biogeographic barriers and episodes of habitat modification.


Nemertean Entocommensal Geoduck Genetic variation Patagonia