Comparative shell morphology of Dreissena polymorpha , Mytilopsis leucophaeata , and the " quagga " mussel ( Bivalvia : Dreissenidae ) in North America

  • Pathy A
  • Mackie G
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Abstract

Dreissena polymorpha, recently introduced to freshwater habitats of North America, has been confused with Mytiopsis leucophaeata, a related species that is native to brackish and fresh waters of North America. The 1991 discovery of a second exotic dreissenid mussel, the "quagga" mussel, suggests there may be more than one species of Dreissena in the Great Lakes, resulting in even more confusion in identification within the family Dreissenidae. To help distinguish the species, internal and external features, ultrastructure, and composition of D. polymorpha, M. leucophaeata, and quagga mussel shells were determined using stereoscopic, scanning electron microscopic, and X-ray diffraction techniques. The most reliable diagnostic feature is the presence of an apophysis in M. leucophaeata and its absence in D. polymorpha and the quagga mussel. Mytilopsis leucophaeata and quagga mussels also lack the acute shoulder or ridge located ventrolaterally. Dreissena polymorpha, M. leucophaeata, and the quagga mussel all have an outer crossed-lamellar shell structure with an inner complex crossed-lamellar shell structure and a thin, prismatic pallial myostracum between. Microtubules are more prominent in M. leucophaeata than in D. polymorpha. No microtubules were found in the quagga mussels. Shells of D. polymorpha, M. leucophaeata, and the quagga mussel are composed entirely of aragonite crystals

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Authors

  • A Pathy

  • Gerald L Mackie

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