Project 379: S. L. Boyer, A. A. Howe, N. W. Juergens, M. C. Hove. 2011. A DNA barcoding approach to identification of freshwater mussel larvae encysted on wild fishes. Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 30 (1):182-194.
Specimen: Leptodea fragilis (Macalester College/Drum1)


We developed a multilocus deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)-barcoding approach to identify
newly transformed juvenile mussels collected from naturally infested fishes in a federally protected
waterway that is home to a diverse mussel community, the St Croix River (Minnesota/Wisconsin, USA).
We used new and publicly available data downloaded from GenBank to build reference databases for
identified adult mussels. We assessed the efficacy of the mitochondrial loci cytochrome oxidase c subunit I
(COI) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide dehydrogenase subunit 1 (ND1) for DNA barcoding. We
concluded that the barcoding gap between average intra- and interspecific genetic distances is wider for
ND1 than for COI, but both loci perform well for species identification in character-based phylogenetic
analyses. Almost every species formed a monospecific clade with high bootstrap and posterior-probability
support. We obtained newly transformed juvenile mussels by collecting individuals of 3 different fish
species that were infested with unionid larvae. We held the fish in aquaria until the mussels emerged
naturally. We then extracted DNA and sequenced our loci of interest. When sequences from the juveniles
were included in phylogenetic analyses, they grouped with single species (or, in one case, a pair of closely
related species) with high bootstrap and posterior-probability support. Identifying juveniles using
morphology alone is difficult and, in some cases, impossible. Therefore, our approach will be useful to
researchers interested in the relationship between unionid mussels and their fish hosts.

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Project DOI: 10.7934/P379,
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MorphoBank Project 379
  • Creation Date:
    02 July 2010
  • Publication Date:
    11 January 2011
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    Sarah Boyer
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