Genetic uniformity and long-distance clonal dispersal in the invasive androgenetic Corbicula clams

Lise Marie Pigneur, Emilie Etoundi, David C. Aldridge, Jonathan Marescaux, Nina Yasuda, Karine Van Doninck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The clam genus Corbicula is an interesting model system to study the evolution of reproductive modes as it includes both sexual and asexual (androgenetic) lineages. While the sexual populations are restricted to the native Asian areas, the androgenetic lineages are widely distributed being also found in America and Europe where they form a major aquatic invasive pest. We investigated the genetic diversity of native and invasive Corbicula populations through a worldwide sampling. The use of mitochondrial and nuclear (microsatellite) markers revealed an extremely low diversity in the invasive populations with only four, undiversified, genetic lineages distributed across Europe and America. On the contrary, in the native populations, both sexual and androgenetic lineages exhibited much higher genetic diversity. Remarkably, the most abundant and widely distributed invasive forms, the so-called form A and form R found in America and Europe respectively, are fixed for the same single COI (cytochrome c oxydase subunit I) haplotype and same multilocus genotype. This suggests that form R, observed in Europe since the 1980s, derived directly from form A found in America since the 1920s. In addition, this form shares alleles with some Japanese populations, indicating a Japanese origin for this invasive lineage. Finally, our study suggests that few androgenetic Corbicula individuals successfully invaded the non-native range and then dispersed clonally. This is one striking case of genetic paradox raising the issue of invasive and evolutionary success of genetically undiversified populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5102-5116
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number20
Early online date4 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • androgenesis
  • invasive species
  • phylogenetics
  • phylogeography
  • reproductive strategies


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