Development of sensitive and specific molecular tools for the efficient detection and discrimination of potentially invasive mussel species of the genus Perna.
Marine mussels of the genus Perna include three species: P. canaliculus, P. viridis and P. perna. While P. canaliculus appears to be greatly restricted to its endemic range of New Zealand, P. perna and P. viridis introductions have been recorded outside their native ranges in several regions of the globe. Such introductions have often resulted in significant negative ecological, economic and social impacts. Perna perna and P. viridis are exotic to Australia and are listed under the Australian Government National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions as high priority species. Rapid detection of marine pests such as Perna species remains fundamental to their effective containment and control. The present study reports on the development and validation of both conventional and real-time PCR assays suited to the rapid identification and discrimination of juvenile and adult specimens of P. viridis, P. canaliculus and P. perna. The development of a sensitive high-throughput real-time PCR assay offers further potential for the efficient detection of the presence of single Perna specimens in mixed populations of native mussel species, and for early detection of larval stages in ballast water and plankton samples. This assay offers considerable advantages over traditional identification methods and represents an important step in developing capacity for efficient identification and management of Perna species incursions in Australian waters.