Article

Conservation genetics of two endangered unionid bivalve species: Epioblasma florentina walkeri and Epioblasma capsaeformis (Unionidae: Lampsilini)

Journal Molluscan Studies 01/2002; 68:385-391. DOI: 10.1093/mollus/68.4.385
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    ABSTRACT: The Mobile Basin historically supported one of the most diverse freshwater mussel (Bivalvia: Unionidae) assemblages in North America. More than 65 species of mussels are known from the Basin, but it is difficult to determine how many species were present historically. The drainage's unique physical habitat was largely destroyed between the late 1800s and mid-1900s by impoundment and channel modifications of most of the larger rivers. Many species that were once common are now restricted to small headwater rivers and mid-sized tributaries. Recent Coosa River tributary surveys revealed a new, undescribed species of Pleurobema. This new species, Pleurobema athearni, is distinctive in outward appearance, shell morphometry and reproductive morphology, and can be distinguished from other Coosa River drainage unionids. Our analysis indicates that P. athearni is morphologically different from other similar taxa. It differs both in shell width/length and width/height ratios and thus provides a simple, quantitative means to differentiate this species from P. georgianum (Lea, 1841) Fusconaia barnesiana (Lea, 1838), and F. cerina (Conrad, 1838), which it superficially resembles and that also occur in the area. Our morphological diagnosis of this species is supported by recent molecular analyses that suggest this species is a Pleurobema and one closely related to other endemic Coosa River drainage unionids. The discovery of a new species of large, long-lived macroinvertebrate from a relatively well-sampled drainage in a populated region of the southeast United States underscores the need for more detailed surveys in isolated stretches of tributary streams. It should also serve as a reminder that almost 40 species of aquatic mollusks have been extirpated from the Mobile Basin before anything could be learned about their habitat or life history requirements.
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    ABSTRACT: Non-lethal DNA sampling has long appealed to researchers studying population and conservation genetics, as it does not necessitate removing individuals permanently from their natural environment or destroying valuable samples. However, such an approach has not yet been well established in bivalves. In this study, we demonstrate that the gill represents a good source of tissue for non-lethal sampling in scallops. Removal of a few gill filaments caused no noticeable behavioral abnormalities or increased mortality rates in Zhikong scallop (Chlamys farreri) during a three-month period of observation. To facilitate rapid gill-based DNA extraction, six methods (MA-MF) were designed and evaluated, each requiring less than one hour of processing time. The optimal method was identified as MF, in terms of maintaining DNA integrity and genotyping accuracy. Further optimization of MF method by orthogonal experimental design suggested that the utilization of gills could be limited to 2 mg of sample, which is sufficient for performing up to 20,000 PCR reactions. We also demonstrate the excellent cross-species utility of MF in two additional scallop species, Yesso scallop (Patinopecten yessoensis) and bay scallop (Argopecten irradians). Taken together, our study provides a rapid and efficient approach for applying non-lethal DNA sampling in bivalve species, which would serve as a valuable tool for maintaining bivalve populations and conservation genetics, as well as in breeding studies.
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