Genetics and taxonomy of Chilean smooth-shelled mussels, Mytilus spp. (Bivalvia: Mytilidae).
Comptes Rendus Biologies 335 (1): 51-61.
It has been previously established that native smooth-shelled mussels in southern South America possess close evolutionary affinities with Northern-Hemisphere Mytilus edulis L. 1758 (McDonald et al. (1991) ). This result has since been challenged by authors claiming that Chilean mussels should be considered a local subspecies of M. galloprovincialis Lmk. 1819. Moreover, morphological, physiological, ecotoxicological and molecular genetic studies on Chilean smooth-shelled mussels still frequently refer to ‘M. chilensis’ Hupé 1854, even though the previous discovery of alien M. galloprovincialis and considerable heterogeneity in shell morphology among samples collected along the Chilean shores raise concerns that different Mytilus spp. species might have been included under ‘M. chilensis’. Here we reviewed the molecular and morphological data available on smooth-shelled mussels from Chile in an attempt to clarify both their genetic composition and their taxonomic status. Using multivariate analysis on sample × allozyme-frequency matrices, we confirmed the widespread occurrence of the Southern-Hemisphere form of M. edulis along the shores from the North Patagonia region of Chile to the southern tip of the South American continent. The populations sampled in southern central Chile showed some evidence of slight introgression from Southern-Hemisphere M. galloprovincialis. Morphological characterization of a sample from Dichato in southern central Chile was consistent with its previous genetic identification as Mediterranean M. galloprovincialis. The occurrence of Southern-Hemisphere M. galloprovincialis in Punta Arenas at the southern tip of the South American continent was also reported. Southern-Hemisphere M. edulis, including native Chilean smooth-shelled Mytilus, should be assigned subspecific rank and named M. edulis platensis d’Orbigny 1846.