Genomics as a tool to understand and fight invasive species: the complete genome of the golden mussel Limnoperna fortunei
The golden mussel Limnoperna fortunei is an Asian bivalve that arrived in the southern part of South America about 25 years ago. L. fortunei was introduced there through ballast water of ships coming from Hong Kong or Korea. It was first found in the estuary of the La Plata River in 1991. Since then, L. fortunei has moved ∼5000 km upstream leaving behind a trace of great economic impact and environmental degradation. The reason why some freshwater bivalves, such as L. fortunei, Dreissena polymorpha, and Corbicula fluminea, are aggressive invaders is not fully understood. These bivalves present characteristics such as (i) tolerance to a wide range of environmental variables, (ii) short life span, (iii) early sexual maturation, and (iv) high reproductive rates that allow them to reach densities as high as 150 000 ind.m−2 over a year that may explain the aggressive behavior. On the other hand, these traits are not exclusive to invasive freshwater bivalves and do not explain how they outcompete native species and disperse so widely. In this talk I’ll present the results for the first complete genome sequenced for the invasive bivalve L. fortunei, which was assembled from short and long DNA reads and using a hybrid and hierarchical assembly strategy. I’ll talk about the crowdfunding process which made this work possible, and how the genome sequencing is now: (i) the basis for further investigations of the molecular mechanisms possibly related to invasion success, and (ii) being used as a molecular map for the development of a biotechnological tool for plague control.
Host: Michael T. Monaghan