Biological Invasions

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 1195–1200 | Cite as

Multiple Invasions – A Polychaete Genus Enters the Baltic Sea

  • Ralf Bastrop
  • Miriam Blank


Since 1985, the nonindigenous polychaete species Marenzelleria neglecta has been found in the Baltic Sea. The species, which was introduced by ship ballast water, spreads rapidly and dominates in many habitats today. Using three gene segments of the mitochondrial DNA (16S rDNA, Cytochrom oxidase I, Cytochrom b), we investigated four populations of the western and northern Baltic Sea in a preliminary survey and compared them with four other populations from the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and from the Arctic. First, we could demonstrate the applicability of the markers to discriminate the species with certainty. Second, with M. viridis and M. arctia, we could detect two more species of the same genus, which have recently been introduced into the Baltic Sea. One of these, M. arctia, was hitherto known as an exclusive arctic member of the genus. The impact of these two recently invaded Marenzelleria species onto the autochthonous fauna needs to be evaluated in the future. The Baltic Sea as a ‘natural aquarium’ now offers the possibility to investigate sibling species simultaneously. However, correct identification and denomination of Marenzelleria species are indispensable prerequisites for all future studies. Molecular markers allow the exact identification of all Marenzelleria species and must be used whenever a classical taxonomic identification is uncertain.


Baltic Sea biological invasion Marenzelleria arctia Marenzelleria neglecta Marenzelleria viridis molecular markers 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BiologyUniversity of RostockRostockGermany

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