Detection of invasive and cryptic species in marine mussels (Bivalvia, Mytilidae): a chromosomal perspective.
Marine mussels illustrate a stunning variability in shape and color. Such variability, added to the scarcity of reliable morphological characters for their identification, can mislead recognition prompting the assignation of specimens of a single species to different ones or incorporate specimens belonging to different taxa into a single one. DNA barcoding is widely used for species identification; however, as this method relies on the previous morphological identification of the specimens, some of the DNA sequences stored in DNA databases are incorrectly assigned to a given species. In view of this uncertainty, further criteria beyond morphological characters and DNA sequences in databases are required to more reliably and accurately identify marine mussels. In this work we mapped ribosomal RNA and histone gene clusters to chromosomes of four species of marine mussels and compared them with those from another eight marine mussel taxa. Specimens of these twelve taxa were also DNA barcoded. Our results clearly demonstrated that the chromosomal analysis of marine mussels could shed light on their identification and, therefore, solve contradictions posed by morphological and molecular data.