Replicated anthropogenic hybridisations reveal parallel patterns of admixture in marine mussels

Alexis Simon*, Christine Arbiol, Einar Eg Nielsen, Jérôme Couteau, Rossana Sussarellu, Thierry Burgeot, Ismaël Bernard, Joop W.P. Coolen, Jean‐Baptiste Lamy, Stéphane Robert, Maria Skazina, Petr Strelkov, Henrique Queiroga, Ibon Cancio, John J. Welch, Frédérique Viard, Nicolas Bierne

*Corresponding author for this work

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Human‐mediated transport creates secondary contacts between genetically differentiated lineages, bringing new opportunities for gene exchange. When similar introductions occur in different places, they provide informally replicated experiments for studying hybridisation. We here examined 4279 Mytilus mussels, sampled in Europe and genotyped with 77 ancestry informative markers. We identified a type of introduced mussels, called ‘dock mussels’, associated with port habitats and displaying a particular genetic signal of admixture between M. edulis and the Mediterranean lineage of M. galloprovincialis. These mussels exhibit similarities in their ancestry compositions, regardless of the local native genetic backgrounds and the distance separating colonised ports. We observed fine‐scale genetic shifts at the port entrance, at scales below natural dispersal distance. Such sharp clines do not fit with migration‐selection tension zone models, and instead suggest habitat choice and early stage adaptation to the port environment, possibly coupled with connectivity barriers. Variations in the spread and admixture patterns of dock mussels seem to be influenced by the local native genetic backgrounds encountered. We next examined departures from the average admixture rate at different loci, and compared human‐mediated admixture events, to naturally admixed populations and experimental crosses. When the same M. galloprovincialis background was involved, positive correlations in the departures of loci across locations were found; but when different backgrounds were involved, no or negative correlations were observed. While some observed positive correlations might be best explained by a shared history and saltatory colonisation, others are likely produced by parallel selective events. Altogether, genome‐wide effect of admixture seems repeatable, and more dependent on genetic background than environmental context. Our results pave the way towards further genomic analyses of admixture, and monitoring of the spread of dock mussels both at large and fine spacial scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article number575-599
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Biological introductions
  • Bentho‐pelagic species
  • Ports
  • Secondary contact
  • Clines
  • Admixture


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