Genetic evidence supports recolonisation by Mya arenaria of western Europe from North America

M. E. Cross*, C. R. Bradley, T. F. Cross, S. Culloty, S. Lynch, P. McGinnity, R. M. O'Riordan, S. Vartia, P. A. Prodöhl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The softshell clam Mya arenaria (L.) is currently widespread on the east and west coasts of North America. This bivalve also occurs on western European shores, where the post-Pleistocene origin of the species, whether introduced or relict, has been debated. We collected 320 M. arenaria from 8 locations in Europe and North America. Clams (n = 84) from 7 of the locations were examined for mitochondrial DNA variation by sequencing a section of the cytochrome oxidase 1 (COX1) gene. These were analysed together with 212 sequences, sourced from GenBank, from the same gene from 12 additional locations, chiefly from eastern North America but also 1 site each from western North America and from western Europe. Ten microsatellite loci were also investigated in all 320 clams. Nuclear markers showed reduced levels of variation in certain European samples. The same common COX1 haplotypes and microsatellite alleles were present throughout the range of M. arenaria, although significant differences were identified in haplotypic and allelic composition between many samples, particularly those from the 2 continents (Europe and North America). These findings support the hypothesis of post-Pleistocene colonisation of European shores from eastern North America (and the recorded human transfer of clams from the east to the west coast of North America in the 19th century).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-112
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Ecology: Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2016


  • COX1
  • Europe
  • Microsatellite loci
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • North America
  • Softshell clam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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