A contribution to the phylogeography of Pinctada imbricata radiata (Leach, 1814) (Bivalvia: Pteriidae) from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea by means of the mitochondrial COI marker.
Pinctada imbricata radiata (Leach, 1814) was the first Lessepsian bivalve reported in the Mediterranean Sea where it is progressively expanding westward. Its native range includes the Indian Ocean and western Atlantic. The present study provides the first insight into the species' phylogeographic structure, by analysing sequences of a 385-bp region of the mitochondrial gene coding for the subunit I of the cytochrome c oxydase (COI). Sixty-four individuals collected at seven Mediterranean localities were sequenced; in addition, eight COI sequences of individuals from the species' native range (Persian Gulf) were retrieved from GenBank. Overall, we detected 10 haplotypes. Samples from both the native range and invaded localities were characterised by low levels of haplotype and nucleotide diversity (total h=0.351, total π=0.0013). Significant genetic divergence was found between Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea samples, whereas very shallow genetic structuring was observed within the Mediterranean study area. Moreover, no pattern of isolation by distance was detected in the Mediterranean. From a historical demography perspective, our results on Mediterranean samples were consistent with a very recent, or even ongoing, demographic expansion. Range expansion of exotic thermophilic species in this area is a widely observed phenomenon that many authors have related to global warming.