Molecular discrimination of Perna (Mollusca: Bivalvia) species using the polymerase chain reaction and species-specific mitochondrial primers.
This work was prompted by the need to be able to identify the invasive mussel species, Perna viridis, in tropical Australian seas using techniques that do not rely solely on morphology. DNA-based molecular methods utilizing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach were developed to distinguish unambiguously between the three species in the genus Perna. Target regions were portions of two mitochondrial genes, cox1 and nad4, and the intergenic spacer between these that occurs in at least two Perna species. Based on interspecific sequence comparisons of the nad4 gene, a conserved primer has been designed that can act as a forward primer in PCRs for any Perna species. Four reverse primers have also been designed, based on nad4 and intergenic spacer sequences, which yield species-specific products of different lengths when paired with the conserved forward primer. A further pair of primers has been designed that will amplify part of the cox1 gene of any Perna species, and possibly other molluscs, as a positive control to demonstrate that the PCR is working.