Marine Biology

, Volume 162, Issue 5, pp 957–968 | Cite as

Molecular phylogenetics reveals first record and invasion of Saccostrea species in the Caribbean

  • Katrina M. Pagenkopp LohanEmail author
  • Kristina M. Hill-Spanik
  • Mark E. Torchin
  • Ellen E. Strong
  • Robert C. Fleischer
  • Gregory M. Ruiz
Original Paper


Taxonomic uncertainty often limits our ability to resolve biogeographic patterns and discern biological invasions. Within the bivalve mollusks, this uncertainty is particularly acute for oysters, as the high degree of phenotypic plasticity of their shells creates taxonomic confusion. The integration of molecular data with shell morphology can differentiate species, providing new insights into biogeography, invasions, and ecology of this functionally important group. As an initial step in resolving the identities and current geographic distributions of oyster species, sequence data from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene were combined with morphological criteria to confirm the identities of ten oyster species of Ostreidae, Isognomonidae, and Pteriidae, focusing on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Panama, since tropical biota have received the least study. The results indicate that Crassostrea virginica, previously only reported from this region along the Yucatan Peninsula and coast of Venezuela, also occurs in the Caribbean waters of Panama. We also document the first record for a species of Saccostrea, a genus native to the Pacific, suggesting an invasion by an unknown non-native Saccostrea species that is now widespread along the Caribbean from the Panama Canal west to Bocas del Toro. Sequences of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1) of the ribosomal gene complex (rDNA) did not reveal any hybridization. Considering the high connectivity of shipping and boating in Panama, Saccostrea sp. may have been introduced to the Caribbean by either recreational or commercial vessels, but the timing and potential ecological effects of this invasion remain unknown.


Bivalve Ballast Water ITS1 Sequence Bivalve Species Intergenic Hybrid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Gabriel Jacome and Plinio Gondola at the Smithsonian Bocas del Toro Marine Station for assistance and discussions on local bivalve species. Dr. Carmen Schlöder assisted with field collections and obtaining permits. We thank Dr. Ilya Tëmkin (NOVA) for assistance with identifying members of the Isognomonidae and John Wilk (UIC) for sharing his data and confirming the identity of the second species of Isognomon. Dr. Mark Minton assisted with the creation of maps in ArcGIS. Nancy Rotzel McInerney provided lab logistical support at CCEG. A Smithsonian Institution Grand Challenges Grant funded this project. A Smithsonian Institution MarineGEO Postdoctoral Fellowship funded KM Pagenkopp Lohan. This is contribution number 2 from the Smithsonian’s Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network.

Supplementary material

227_2015_2637_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (298 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 297 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrina M. Pagenkopp Lohan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kristina M. Hill-Spanik
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mark E. Torchin
    • 4
  • Ellen E. Strong
    • 5
  • Robert C. Fleischer
    • 1
  • Gregory M. Ruiz
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Conservation and Evolutionary GeneticsSmithsonian Conservation Biology InstituteWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Marine Invasions LaboratorySmithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA
  3. 3.Grice Marine LabCollege of CharlestonCharlestonUSA
  4. 4.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboa, AnconRepublic of Panama
  5. 5.Department of Invertebrate ZoologyNational Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA

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