Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Mytilus galloprovincialis
(Mediterranean mussel)

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Datasheet

Mytilus galloprovincialis (Mediterranean mussel)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 25 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Mytilus galloprovincialis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Mediterranean mussel
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Mollusca
  •       Class: Bivalvia
  •         Subclass: Pteriomorphia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The Mediterranean mussel, M. galloprovincialis, has been unintentionally introduced to various regions around the world outside of its native Mediterranean range, both through shipping and cultivation. M. gall...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Mussels on the public wharf in Nanaimo, central Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. May 2005.
TitleExposed mussels
CaptionMussels on the public wharf in Nanaimo, central Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. May 2005.
CopyrightJody Shields
Mussels on the public wharf in Nanaimo, central Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. May 2005.
Exposed musselsMussels on the public wharf in Nanaimo, central Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. May 2005.Jody Shields

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819

Preferred Common Name

  • Mediterranean mussel

Other Scientific Names

  • Mytilus edulis form galloprovincialis
  • Mytilus edulis galloprovincialis

International Common Names

  • English: black mussel; blue mussel; common mussel; edible mussel; European mussel; mussel
  • Spanish: mejillón; mejillón Mediterráneo
  • French: moule; moule commune; moule Méditerranéenne
  • Arabic: tamr el bahr

Local Common Names

  • Canada: gallo mussel
  • Croatia: dagnja
  • Germany: Miesmuschel; Mittelmeer-Miesmuschel
  • Greece: mýdi
  • Israel: zidpit galit
  • Italy: mitilo
  • Spain: clotxina; musclo
  • Turkey: midye
  • Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro): dagnja

Summary of Invasiveness

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The Mediterranean mussel, M. galloprovincialis, has been unintentionally introduced to various regions around the world outside of its native Mediterranean range, both through shipping and cultivation. M. galloprovincialis is considered highly invasive due to its quick rate of spread and its ability to displace and outcompete native mussels.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Mollusca
  •             Class: Bivalvia
  •                 Subclass: Pteriomorphia
  •                     Order: Mytiloida
  •                         Unknown: Mytiloidea
  •                             Family: Mytilidae
  •                                 Genus: Mytilus
  •                                     Species: Mytilus galloprovincialis

Description

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Morphology

All Mytilus have distinctive shells ranging in colouration from black with blue or purplish hues to dark brown and occasionally light brown. Although M. galloprovincialis differs in shape from other Mytilus species, in practice analyses of multiple morphological characters in combination (i.e. morphometrics) are most frequently used to reliably distinguish M. galloprovincialis from other Mytilus species (McDonald, 1991; Beaumont, 2008; Gardner and Thompson, 2009). In Puget Sound (Pacific North America), Elliot et al. (2008) report that ratios of shell height to length can be used to identify M. galloprovincialis and M. trossulus. In the Sea of Japan, Semenikhina et al. (2008) describe morphological differences between M. galloprovincialis and M. trossulus larvae.

Distribution

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M. galloprovincialis lives on hard substrates from the intertidal zone to depths of 40 m. It is found along coasts and rocky shores, and in sheltered harbours and estuaries. The native species range is in the Mediterranean (Barsotti and Meluzzi, 1968) and the eastern Atlantic - from Ireland and the United Kingdom (Gosling, 1992) to northern Africa (Comesana et al., 1998); presumably range expansion into the Atlantic has been natural. This species is also found in the Pacific coast of North America (McDonald and Koehn, 1988), Japan (Wilkins et al., 1983), Hong Kong (Lee and Morton, 1985), South Africa (Grant and Cherry, 1985), Chile (Hilbish et al., 2000; Gérard et al., 2008), and Australia (Hilbish et al., 2000; Gérard et al., 2008). Introduction to these regions has undoubtedly been due to human activities. Historical introductions have probably been accidental, but this species is actively cultivated so aquaculture may also be the source of secondary introductions (Wonham, 2004).

Delineating the exact range of M. galloprovincialis is complicated by the lack of reliable morphological differences and by hybridization with other Mytilus species. For example, in France, Britain and Ireland M. galloprovincialis is sympatric with M. edulis and the two interbreed (Gosling, 1992). Outside of its native range, M. galloprovincialis is known to hybridize with M. trossulus in the Pacific (Rawson and Hilbish, 1995; Brannock et al., 2009). In Chile, Australia, and New Zealand there is evidence for two distinct types of mussels, one of which is M. galloprovincialis (Hilbish et al., 2000; Gérard et al., 2008), but whether or not they are hybridizing is unknown.

M. galloprovincialis
is cultivated in Albania, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, France, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine (Hickman, 1992; FIGIS, 2005), Canada (J Shields, University of Queensland, Australia, personal communication, 2010), and in the Scottish lakes (Beaumont, 2008). Because of the difficulties in identifying M. galloprovincialis, it is likely that some farms may be inadvertently rearing M. galloprovincialis in addition to native Mytilus species. Aquaculture facilities may use new techniques to produce triploid and tetraploid mussels, which are functionally sterile, thereby eliminating the risk of wild populations establishing (McEnnulty et al., 2001).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Sea Areas

Mediterranean and Black SeaPresentNativeGosling, 1992

Asia

ChinaPresentMcDonald et al., 1990
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedLee and Morton, 1985; DIAS, 2005
JapanPresentIntroducedWilkins et al., 1983; DIAS, 2005; Brannock et al., 2009
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroducedDaguin and Borsa, 2000
TurkeyPresentNativeHickman, 1992

Africa

EgyptPresentNativeHickman, 1992
MoroccoPresentNativeHickman, 1992; Comesana et al., 1998
NamibiaPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Grant and Cherry, 1985; ISSG, 2005

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedHeath et al., 1995; Wonham, 1999; Government of British Columbia, 2005; Shields et al., 2008; Shields et al., 2010
MexicoPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
USAPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedMcDonald and Koehn, 1988; Wonham, 1999
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2005
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedKing and Cortés-Monroy, 2002

South America

ChilePresentDaguin and Borsa, 2000; Gérard et al., 2008

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNativeHickman, 1992
BulgariaPresentNativeHickman, 1992
FrancePresentNativeHickman, 1992
GreecePresentNativeHickman, 1992
ItalyPresentNativeHickman, 1992
PortugalPresentNativeHickman, 1992
Russian FederationPresentHickman, 1992
SpainPresentNativeHickman, 1992
UKPresentGosling, 1992
UkrainePresentFIGIS, 2005
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentNativeHickman, 1992

Oceania

AustraliaPresentMcDonald et al., 1991; Daguin and Borsa, 2000; Gérard et al., 2008
-TasmaniaPresentMcDonald et al., 1991; Daguin and Borsa, 2000; Gérard et al., 2008
-Western AustraliaPresentMcDonald et al., 1991; Daguin and Borsa, 2000; Gérard et al., 2008
New ZealandPresentMcDonald et al., 1991; Daguin and Borsa, 2000; Gérard et al., 2008

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Hong Kong 1983 Unknown Yes
Japan 1926 Unknown Yes
Mexico Mediterranean and Black Sea Unknown Yes
Namibia 1990s Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown
South Africa Mediterranean and Black Sea 1970s Unknown Yes
USA Mediterranean and Black Sea 1800s Unknown Yes

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Marine
Benthic zone Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Benthic zone Principal habitat Natural
Inshore marine Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Inshore marine Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

Genetics
 
There have been numerous population genetic studies of M. galloprovincialis, motivated by the poor resolution of morphology for species identification and the propensity of this species to hybridize with other mussels – with M. edulis in the natural species range, and M. trossulus in its introduced range.
 
Genetic markers have been developed to differentiate these species, but each marker varies in its ability to distinguish between them:
  • ITS – distinguishes between M. trossulus and M. galloprovincialis/M. edulis, but not between M. galloprovincialis and M. edulis (Heath et al., 1995).
  • PLIIa – distinguishes between M. trossulus and M. galloprovincialis/M. edulis, but not between M. galloprovincialis and M. edulis (Heath et al., 1995).
  • Glu5’ (same as Me15/16 (Inoue et al., 1995)) – a nuclear DNA locus that produces three alleles diagnostic for M. edulis, M. galloprovincialisand M. trossulus. Hybrid mussels are identified as heterozygous (Rawson et al., 1996).
Genomic research of M. galloprovincialis has recently been advanced by the latest next-generation pyrosequencing technology (Craft et al., 2010). This recent pyrosequencing has provided extensive genomic information for M. galloprovincialis and identified novel expression differences among various tissues, mitochondria and associated microorganisms (Craft et al., 2010). It will also facilitate the much needed production of an oligonucleotide microarray for M. galloprovincialis, further advancing genomic research of this organism.

 

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Asterias rubens Predator
Aves Predator
Carcinus maenas Predator
Charybdis japonica Predator Oikawa et al., 2004
Diplodus sargus sargus Predator
Pisaster ochraceus Predator Wonham, 1999
Sparus aurata Predator
Telmessus acutidens Predator Oikawa et al., 2004

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Ship ballast water and sediment Yes
Ship hull fouling Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Fisheries / aquaculture Positive
Native fauna Negative

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Biodiversity

The effects of M. galloprovincialis on native species is an area of active study. The effects of introduced M. galloprovincialis at the community level have been best studied in South Africa. North of the Cape of Good Hope, M. galloprovincialis has displaced a native mussel and polychaete from exposed shorelines (Griffiths et al., 1992; Branch and Steffani, 2004), but has facilitated the abundance of a native limpet (Branch et al., 2010) and a rare shore bird (Branch and Steffani, 2004). On the southern coast of South Africa, M. galloprovincialis and the resident dominant bivalve coexist with some niche displacement of each species (Bownes and McQuaid, 2006).

On the Pacific coast of North America, research has primarily focused on habitat competition with its congener M. trossulus, (Heath et al., 1995; Dutton and Hofmann, 2008; Shields et al., 2008, 2010). Historically, M. trossulus was abundant along much of the Pacific coast of North America (Geller, 1999) but current distributions are now more restricted to central California and northward. M. galloprovincialis hybridizes with M. trossulus forming multiple discrete hybrid zones along the entire coast from California up through Puget Sound in Washington (Wonham, 2004) and into Canada (Heath et al., 1995; Yanick et al., 2003; Shields et al., 2008, 2010). In southern California, M. galloprovincialis has become the dominant mussel (Dutton and Hofmann, 2008) and the transition between M. galloprovincialis and M. trossulus appears to be near 40° or 41°N latitude (Suchanek et al., 1997). On Vancouver Island, Canada, hybrid (M. galloprovicialis x M. trossulus) mussels have a higher fitness than either parental species in certain environments (Shields et al., 2008).

Impact: Biodiversity

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In South Africa, M. galloprovincialis is replacing the indigenous black and brown mussels (ISSG, 2005). However, it has also provided an additional source of food for the rare and endangered African black oystercatcher, Haematopus moquini (Branch and Steffani, 2004).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses List

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General

  • Research model

Human food and beverage

  • Canned meat
  • Fresh meat
  • Frozen meat
  • Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)

References

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Apte S; Holland BS; Godwin LS; Gardner JPA, 2000. Jumping ship: a stepping stone event mediating transfer of a non-indigenous species via a potentially unsuitable environment. Biological Invasions, 2:75-79.

Aquaculture Western Australia, 2005. Online at www.fish.wa.gov.au/aqua/broc/aqwa/mussels/index.html. Accessed 22 July 2005.

Barsotti G; Meluzzi C, 1968. [English title not available]. (Osservazioni su Mytilus edulis L. e Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamark.) Conchiglie, 4:50-58.

Beaumont AR, 2008. Genetic studies of laboratory reared mussels, Mytilus edulis: heterozygote deficiencies, heterozygosity and growth. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 44:273-285.

Beaumont AR; Turner G; Wood AR; Skibinski DOF, 2004. Hybridisation between Mytilus edulis and Mytilus galloprovincialis and performance of pure species and hybrid veliger larvae at different temperatures. J. Ex. Mar. Biol. Ecol., 302(2):177-188.

Bownes SJ; McQuaid CD, 2006. Will the invasive mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck replace the indigenous Perna perna L. on the south coast of South Africa? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 338(1):140-151. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00220981

Branch GM; Odendaal F; Robinson TB, 2010. Competition and facilitation between the alien mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis and indigenous species: moderation by wave action. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 383(1):65-78. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T8F-4XRBH6M-1&_user=10&_coverDate=01%2F31%2F2010&_rdoc=10&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%235085%232010%23996169998%231577668%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=5085&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=11&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=4dbeaa48a50b335602372d4b0b1e104b

Branch GM; Steffani CN, 2004. Can we predict the effects of alien species? A case history of the invasion of South Africa by Mytilus galloprovincialis (Lamarck). J. Ex. Mar. Biol. Ecol., 300(1/2):189-215.

Brannock PM; Wethey DS; Hilbish TJ, 2009. Extensive hybridization with minimal introgression in Mytilus galloprovincialis and M. trossulus in Hokkaido, Japan. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 383:161-171.

Comesana AS; Posada D; Sanjuan A, 1998. Mytilus galloprovincialis Lmk. in northern Africa. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol, 223:271-283.

Craft JA; Gilbert JA; Temperton B; Dempsey KE; Ashelford K; Tiwari B; Hutchinson TH; Chipman JK, 2010. Pyrosequencing of mytilus galloprovincialis cDNAs: tissue-specific expression patterns. PLoS ONE, 5(1):e8875.

Daguin C; Borsa P, 2000. Genetic relationships of Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck populations worldwide: evidence from nuclear-DNA markers. In: Harper EM, Taylor JD, Crane JA, eds. The evolutionary biology of the bivalvia. Geological Society of London Special Publications 111, 389-397.

DIAS, 2005. Database on introduction of aquatic species. Database on introduction of aquatic species. unpaginated. http://www.fao.org/fi/figis/

Dutton JM; Hofmann GE, 2008. Spatial and temporal variation in distribution and protein ubiquitination for Mytilus congeners in the California hybrid zone. Marine Biology, 154:1067-1075.

Elliot J; Holmes K; Chambers R; Leon K; Wimberger P, 2008. Differences in morphology and habitat use among the native mussel Mytilus trossulus, the non-native M. galloprovincialis and their hybrids in Puget Sound, Washington. Marine Biology, 156:39-53.

Erkom Schurink CVan; Griffiths CL, 1990. Marine mussels of southern Africa their distribution, standing stocks, exploitation and culture. J. Shellfish Res, 9:75-85.

FIGIS, 2005. Fisheries Global Information System. Online at www.fao.org. Accessed 25 July 2005.

Fuentes J; Gregorio V; Giráldez R; Molares J, 2000. Within-raft variability of the growth rate of mussels, Mytilus galloprovincialis, cultivated in the Ría de Arousa (NW Spain). Aquaculture, 189(1/2):39-52.

Gardner JPA; Thompson RJ, 2009. Influence of genotype and geography on shell shape and morphometric trait variation among North Atlantic blue mussel (Mytilus spp.) populations. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 96(4):875-897. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/bij

Geller JB, 1999. Decline of a native mussel masked by sibling species invasion. Conservation Biology, 13:661-664.

Geller JB; Carlton JT; Powers DA, 1994. PCR-based detection of mtDNA haplotypes of native and invading mussels on the north-eastern Pacific coast: latitudinal pattern of invasion. Marine Biology, 119:243-249.

Gérard K; Bierne N; Borsa P; Chenuil A; Féral JP, 2008. Pleistocene separation of mitochondrial lineages of Mytilus spp. mussels from Northern and Southern Hemispheres and strong genetic differentiation among southern populations. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol, 49:84-91.

Gosling EM, 1992. Systematic and geographic distribution of Mytilus. In: Gosling EM, ed. The mussel Mytilus: ecology, physiology, genetics and culture. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, 1-20.

Gosling; EM, 1984. The systematic status of Mytilus galloprovincialis in western Europe: a review. Malacolgia, 25(2): 551-568.

Government of British Columbia, 2005. Species list. Online at www.agf.gov.bc.ca/fish_stats/species_list.htm. Accessed 22 July 2005.

Grant WS; Cherry MI, 1985. Mytilus galloprovincialis Lmk. In southern Africa. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol., 90:179-191.

Griffiths CL; Hockey PAR; Erkom Schurink CVan; Roux PJL, 1992. Marine invasive aliens on South African shores: implications for community structure and trophic functioning. S. Afr. J. Mar. Sci, 12:713-722.

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Heath DD; Rawson PD; Hilbish TJ, 1995. PCR-based nuclear markers identify alien blue mussel (Mytilus spp.) genotypes on the west coast of Canada. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 52(12):2621-2627.

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Wonham MJ, 2004. Mini-review: distribution of the Mediterranean mussel Mytilusgallo provincialis (Bivalvia: Mytilidae) and hybrids in the Northeast Pacific. J. Shellfish Res, 23:535-543.

Yanick JF; Heath JW; Heath DD, 2003. Survival and growth of local and transplanted blue mussels (Mytilus trossulus, Lamark). Aquaculture Research, 34(10):869-875. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2109.2003.00894.x/abs/

Contributors

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30/03/2010 Updated by:

Jody Shields, The University of Queensland, Australia

Cynthia Riginos, The University of Queensland, Australia

Main Author
Vicki Bonham
146 City Road, Tilehurst, Reading, RG31 5SD, UK

Distribution Maps

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